The amount of science out there is staggering. Some of it dense. Hidden behind paywalls. Lots of it fascinating. Sometimes hard to replicate. Much of it uncertain. Often unread. So that’s why I set up a Rural Science page.
There’s quite a smorgasbord of science on the page. Ecological is everyone’s fav. Obviously. Works best on wide screen TV, Twitter and rightly so. As it engages the widest audience. Yet the one we often require are the social sciences to help gain traction with more than just one audience.
Especially if we want it to stick where it really matters. On the ground, in the field, at sea level, in a shopper’s mind, across a farmer’s table. Not just another academia citation tailing in tiny script as a reference. (Sorry, my scientist friends). There is also more room for stories, counter narratives, opinions, thought pieces on the science.
A farmland scientist at a large wildlife conservation organisation once told me: “We should be researching stuff which land managers want us to research”. This is key at a time when a new era of land management is unfolding. Around farming, land use, health, diets, trees, carbon and more, much more, as a major land use goes through a transition.
“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.”Karl Popper
Evidence is important, but perception matters. Ecologically evidence-based stuff too often failing to engage practitioners because we’ve failed to deal with the social perception. Often unsaid, not in books; who says it, counts.
I flit between science conferences and rural land meetings. Face to face works best. Asking questions, giving other points of view, playing devil’s advocate – hardly popular in an increasingly partisan world.
But that’s the point of my Rural Science research page. It’s not about popularity, simplistic graphics, a piece in The Conversation (“Disinformation is dangerous. Listen to experts“) or a gatekeeper‘s campaign narrative.
It’s about unfettered access to sate curiosity and provoke adaptive thinking. So, fill your boots!
ps This page from the Wild Trout Trust is brilliant stuff for farmers re buffers to protect watercourses
pps I’ll get round to my heavyweight interview with Prof Tim Benton on food, farm, yellowhammers. Soon…