antennae vs antennas

Liz Day lday at
Wed Oct 21 12:41:10 EDT 1998

(To Phil Schappert and the group)

> But to suggest that I, as a scientist, use jargon to intentionally
> intimidate people goes too far. 

Agreed.  Is not true at all.

> your level of interest will determine how much terminology you learn. 

Yes.  I think you must have dealt with people who were a lot more
interested people than the ones I've had!

> My own case may be instructive. I am relatively new to natural history
> and to Lepidoptera. I had little interest in the natural world until I
> was in my late 20's.

How did this happen?  I'm fascinated.  What suddenly made you

> the most important) thing I learned about communicating
> science to non-scientists is not to "dumb down" the subject - it
> insults those who are interested in learning the subject!

Dumbing down is not the same as omitting unnecessary jargon.  The only
disagreement is what constitutes "unnecessary"...
> Agreed. This "whimsical property" makes the use of alternative terms
> an excellent teaching tool - you have "retained that knowledge ever
> since" after all - but there's a difference between useful and
> correct. Just because (and I quote Mr. Glassberg's editorial here)
> "Nine-hundred ninety-five people, including all the children, will
> answer "tongue"," does not make it so. A much better anology to use
> for teaching the term "proboscis" is to call it a "straw" - your
> students/listeners will have a better understanding of what a
> proboscis really is and I bet they'll retain that knowledge for a long
> time. "Tongue" is not an appropriate alternative term and would, I
> suspect, interfere with their future learning.

Straw is much better than tongue.  Tongue is still better than proboscis.

Liz Day   
LDAY at 
Indianapolis, Indiana, central USA - 40 N latitude, zone 5b.

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