Lessons from Science Social Media for Healthcare

The short version of this blogpost is:


Now, with a trifle more subtlety, here are a few thoughts and comments.

I watched this brilliant video by Andrew Maynard (aka @2020science, aka Director of the UM Risk Science Center) a day or two after Andrew blogged it. I’ve been raving about it ever since, and would have blogged it much sooner if my schedule wasn’t so crazy.

Why am I raving about it? Well, listen to this video through one time, listening carefully. Then listen a second time, and everytime he says the word “science” replace it with the word “healthcare.” Yep. That’s all it takes. The problems he identifies for “Science 2.0” are the same problems faced by “Health 2.0”. (NOTE: I don’t like the phrases “2.0”, but people seem to like those. I prefer “Open Science” and “Healthcare Social Media” #HCSM.)

Here are my notes for myself about what I thought were the most important take-aways from Andrew’s talk.


1) Arrogant naivetë
– Too often a complete dismissal of social media as “utterly and totally irrelevant chatter” “reflects utter misunderstanding.
– Misunderstanding assumes conversation is meaningless unless “significant.”
– Easy to forget that the apparently trivial serves as cement for social relationships.
– Arrogance assumes that scientists know the ultimate reality and it is their duty to educate the rest of the world.
– Failure attempts to emulate the success of others without understanding why they are successful.
– Communication will lead to content; the right messenger in the right place at the right time will know their audience.
– False belief that all we have to do is pretend to be celebrities
– Forgetting that people are smarter than you think.

2) Uncivil behavior as a barrier to engaging in nuanced dialogue.

Frustration spills over into telling people, ‘they’re stupid and got things wrong’ doesn’t change their minds. All you do is alienate the people you are trying to reach, and then all you can do is preach to the choir, who don’t need to hear it. The more forcefully people express their opinions, the harder it is to engage them in a nuanced dialog. We often don’t want to expose ourself to trolls, so we stifle ourselves. Uncivil behavior stifles dialog and potential for informed dialog.


1) listening
– to far more people from broader richer backgrounds
– place science in social context – what makes them tick
– two way flow of information

2) engagement
– conversation / relationships
– build relationships conversation as equals
– we need to engage as equals to equals
– we are NOT superior
– build trust, legitimacy, influence

3) empowerment
– see the world in a different way
– alow people to see into our world, to see the world through science
– giving people a new toolset for decisionmaking

How do I empower someone else to enable their agenda with the best possible science underpinning?

When we talk about science and social media, we tend to think about pushing our own view. We need to think about socmed as social responsibility. We have something important to offer to society — giving others the best possible tools to inform their reasoning and decisions.

#1 Take Away
Social media is more about empowering them rather than pushing us.

As Andrew says, “Are we going to embrace the real important ideas here?”


One response to “Lessons from Science Social Media for Healthcare

  1. Pingback: Science Blog on: Patricia F. Anderson: Lessons from Science Social Media for Healthcare | Emerging Technologies Librarian | MiloRiano: Science & Technology news, tips, guides

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