Communication takes more than just publishing thoughts. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)
In my blog, I have just tried to challenge myself into finding relevant gaps of knowledge trying to bring attention to them presenting arguments which would sustain the criteria presented. The main aim of it, it would be to call for the attention of those involved in related topics of research in order to originate a constructive discussion. Those discussions would help to dismiss or restate the arguments that I have developed, trying to unify criteria pointing to those of relevant accuracy. I have chosen such attitude for my blog in the belief of that this activity would offer an enriching and challenging activity for myself to keep active in research at the same time that it would add some value “in the making” for others.
I don´t have the answers, if anything, I have questions. I am only trying to find out if there are already out there answers which have not been applied just because nobody has made the matching question yet. Connecting points. Could it be that the information or the person with the answer is already there but is still waiting to be used until somebody points out its relevance? Let’s call it poking the beehive trying to induce a brain storm in research. That is what I have tried to achieve.
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
All of this process can only be achieved through communication. However, it is difficult for anybody to control the image that we project when we only use words. Communication takes more than just publishing thoughts.
As part of my communication management, I keep record for most of my interventions from everywhere that I have incorporated my thoughts into, so I can see the consistence of my arguments and any drift on my own line of thinking. In that way I can track the coherence of my views on things, how my points of view might change over time and what it was that might have exerted an influence on them.
As part of the follow up over my interventions in several discussions I can see where I have had positive feedback and also, where I have had some challenging situations.
Sometimes, being challenged receiving not such a good feedback is a good exercise because it forces you to get out of the comfortable zone. And this is part of anybody’s personal and professional experience. So I want to share some of those situations showing how difficult is for anybody to control the image that we project when we only use words.
On November 28, 2013 I published a post entitled: Science, scientists, researchers, policy-makers, and the rest of society. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)
One of the comments that I received from a person with a profile claiming to be retired was:
Scientists, particularly those receiving public funds, have an obligation to communicate their findings and scientific opinions to “the public” if they are generally or especially important and potentially useful regarding human health, safety, the environment and the economy. One person, without scientific position or credentials, will be given scant attention. The force multiplier is then being part of an organization, movement or society with concerns similar to yours. Otherwise you are just another person with a megaphone.
However, there are many avenues for expression and exposition by writing for laypersons in popular scientific and environmental magazines, journals, newsletters, blogs and even newspapers. Writing for the popular press is not easy; it requires that you be accurate, knowledgeable and interesting.
It is a waste of time to write for people exactly like yourself unless you have something new and different to say. Otherwise you’re just part of the echo chamber.
My answer was (Diego Fdez-Sevilla):
I am glad that my article shares some interest and I feel grateful for your contribution. It helps to have references from others sharing points of view and it also helps to have support from those who give me courage to keep speaking out. Since I am in a transition period between job positions, just by speaking out I am exposing myself to scrutiny by potential employers. So I have more to lose than somebody who is not putting at risk any career prospects or potential resources for funding.
Being without attachments from an affiliation gives you freedom of speech to a certain extend. Total freedom if you are retired, but you have to be careful when you are trying to build bridges and not to burn them down. So with my blog I am just trying to share what I find in my path throughout a constant effort for staying updated in environmental research. Sharing information published in academic and none academic media as well as bringing some thoughts to an untargeted audience with the only intention of enhancing my skills in communication and the hope of building more bridges than burning them down.
Someone asked me once if I would have any problem in going against the establishment. Tricky question to answer. I said no since I like to fight for what I believe is appropriate. But, what about if fighting for what you believe put at risk your job position or unsettle those bringing funding to your research or the institution you are part of? How much credit and support would you be given to stand for what you believe? Would you lose the value of your credit by leaving the organization, movement or society you might be part of? What about losing your job? Would you lose your credit since you are not part of any affiliation?
I guess some scientists, among others, might fear what being in the public media may bring by putting at risk building apathy from untargeted audiences. I don´t have many options. If you don´t make noise you don´t exist. I welcome any participation aimed to be constructive in order to build bridges and improve myself as a person and as a researcher. I have been performing research since I finished my university degree in 2001, moved from Spain to UK and Germany to carry out a thesis for which I was awarded PhD (at the same time that I had to learn proper English), published only part of my intellectual property portfolio and lectured in International venues and I am resilient to change my mind set to keep quiet and wait. Otherwise I would become just another brick in the wall.
(This person become later part of my network and I have never heard a bad comment from him.)
One of the comments that I received:
-What is it that you have learned that we care to notice?
My answer was:
I just want to share info that I feel it is interesting so each one can decide by himself what wants to make of it. As it can be the case about this post and the existence of the Third National Climate Assessment and its content.
An increase in Solar activity could increase the temperature of the masses getting radiated (water or land). It could increase evaporation from oceans but water vapor needs more factors to be sustained in atmospheric circulation for longer periods of time and reach further in latitudes. Thermodynamic laws dictate the amount of water which can be contained in the atmosphere. More evaporation in a clean sky (low aerosol and green house gasses content) could induce more rain in tropospheric circulation but it wouldn´t stand for long in the atmosphere as the energy within it would dissipate. However, if the amount of greenhouse gasses increases the energy from the cyclonic event would not feel so greatly the differential gradient in energy with the surrounding so it would not dissipate its energy so easily.
The forces interacting with the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and with the weather circulation are linked with the conditions of the atmosphere (greenhouse gassess) and also with transformations inland over water bodies and water circulation, land use and land cover. For more info you can look at the following posts and the references inside:
(here is where I decided to publish my thoughts as a theory proposal in atmospheric circulation http://wp.me/p403AM-k3)
Same person Replied with:
– What you have written above is much more useful than your blog. I would really be interested to read any explanation of why California is getting drier. Another, somewhat related condition, but I understand that is little changed in millenia; why is Egypt a desert?
The person who wrote the answer that you liked is the same whom write the blog you don´t find to be so useful. When the information is addressed to you personally it seems to gain usefulness under your judgement. Well, that is not too objective I might say, but pretty understandable. In consultancy that is how it works.
But my blog is not designed as a product to compliance with the rules of supply and demand. Take it as the work of a musician showing the way how he understand music in this period of his life.
I have worked researching for answers to questions made by others through many years in my career. This blog represents the questions that I choose to make and the paths that I want to explore to find the answers. In this way I might find those with an alike mindset to explore, contrast and further develop an understanding about some issues of shared interest.
There is more to find out from my blog that what your eyes might point to at first. There is a reason behind every entrance/post in my blog. But it is for each one to decide the amount of time to spend reading and understanding and choosing what to make of it.
What I have written above is from my blog. From my previous comment you might have noticed that there is more to be found in my blog than just the titles. And I hope that sooner than later I will manage to find a position that will allow me to contribute professionally beyond from where I stand.
So far, and among others, I have being exploring the implications of understanding the role of water vapor in a global system under a constant environmental transformation.
If you feel like, and in order to understand why I have written the previous comment, you can read in my blog about the lines that I have taken to explore the influence of Solar activity, Biological productivity, Polar vortex, Resilience, Inland water bodies, energy balance and the Influence of continentality on extreme climatic events.
May be then, you can tell me what have you learnt that I should care to notice.
Funny the way you choose to build bridges.
“What is it that you have learned that we care to notice?
What you have written above is much more useful than your blog.”
Diego, I think the best reply I have is to summarize my experience…
Just, I wouldn´t suggest to anybody working with me, or for me, to apply those expressions to address somebody and what somebody does.
It sends a misleading message which could easily be misunderstood with a patronising attitude or self-appointed superiority. And more importantly, its use would not represent any assets gained through professional experience and could just build apathy. Nothing I would like to have in the manners expressed by a member of my team.
These kind of misunderstandings have led to create the Ivory Tower concept around knowledgeable people. And if any, I have an Ivory tower for rental which I would share very kindly. It does not give me shelter or company, and I can not chew its walls.
When communicating with someone, I believe it is better never to spare words leaving open the chance for misunderstanding.
The development of my career and myself as a person, relies on a constant feedback from others, whatever the background or stage in their career. Everybody has the potential to have bright ideas, new and worthy points of view independently of his/her background and experience. Some people just need the opportunity to have access to resources and, be lucky enough to have others to see and recognize their potential in order to be able to build a career. Without those opportunities, bright minds are just kept anonymous spending their potential in the very acknowledgeable task of making the most of their lives and jobs, building families and helping others. Being knowledgeable is about resources, being wise is more about attitude.
The most admirable people I have met are those who can make anybody understand what they have to say and recognise and value potential in others as sources of knowledge independently of the source’s pedigree. Those whom never make you feel inferior, the ones whom, from their experience, know how to recognise a situation, adapt and engage without losing any potential to communicate.
I am pretty sure that plenty of knowledge can be acquired throughout experience, and yet, it is about how we apply what we have learnt when we want to communicate and engage with others what it makes all the difference.
I rather prefer not to discuss about people and discuss about ideas.
I received the following comment:
Is this about evolution, perhaps, Dr Sevilla? I believe we ought to see how the world and its people are “naturally” (i.e. — no legislation necessary!) evolving to save the future for their grandkids?
I guess the term “evolution” is very open to play with.
You might be referring to the phrase: “the debate about the impact of anthropogenic development on planetary environmental evolution”
Well, my fault. Yes I have chosen these words intentionally. Because whatever the debate goes, it seems that not many realise that this is not a momentary situation we have to decide if is real, or if we want to face it and how.
Either way, in today’s debate, if the impact of human development in the climate is happening now or not, is not tackling the main question of foreseeing the real threat of happening sooner or later in the evolutionary timeline of our planet.
And the later we understand how that can happen, the shorter is going to be the time frame reaction to do something about it. Unless… there is no debate about the existence of a real threat from considering human development as a force capable of having an impact in the climate…neither now, nor in the future.
If you like, you can see my personal posture on climate in these posts:
When the order of the factors does affect the product. “A Changing Climate can affect the diversity of an ecosystem” Vs “Changing the diversity of an ecosystem can affect the Climate”. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)
Out of the blue I received the following message:
And I have a bridge for you to buy. Seriously, after coldest winter on record you have the audacity to imply that temperature contrasts are decreasing? You are totally illogical in your assumptions. As most Americans found out, the Farmers Almanac was and is more accurate than your minority opinion. You represent 10% of the weather scientists but because of Agenda 21, you intend to push this inaccurate projection to the ultimate degree. The Science is not final on this issue. We know as long as you tote the Climate Change agenda you will get the research money you do not deserve.
I have received this message from you and it looks like it is the continuation of an ongoing conversation which I don´t recall to have been part of from my records. So I wonder if I am the right person you want to address or if you were trying to send the message to a different person.
If I am the one you want to answer your message and I have missed some previous message from you which relates with this one please give me some background I can hold on to.
For the same post (Drops of weather) I started a discussion in a group at LinkedIn giving the title: “Implications for natural systems of having to follow random atmospheric thermal contrasts”. And I received the following comment:
I’m not sure that ‘random’ is the correct description. Randomness would imply a distribution of slow to rapid temperature swings where the distribution has some sort of probability profile ; however, randomness implies clustering of similar events in some time intervals and in other time intervals very sparse occurrence. Of course, in modern jargon ‘random’ can be used to indicate unexpected or unpredictable; even ‘unpredictable’ is used to describe events whose frequency of occurrence is known but time of arrival is …well randomly distributed. State of the art is that extreme weather events are difficult to predict without a substantial confidence interval but uncertainty and randomness are not quite the same thing. Perception, particularly as it applies to the weather: sudden large changes are noted but so are protracted periods of warm or cold or dry or wet weather; it seems that modest but continuing variation is ‘normal’.
When it comes to the impact of weather and its big brother climate on biological systems, that’s a given. One can visit farming communities in the four corners area where all that exists for the last several centuries is tumbleweed, scrub and creeks that sometimes actually have water. Or one can consider the La Verendrye brothers’ writing about grass so thick the horses were engorged when subsequent explorers were impressed by the bareness of the place. Or consider the ‘dirty thirties’. One doesn’t have to look very far to see that climatic variations have an effect on the biosphere. In Northern Ontario, I like the racoon index i.e. how many racoons one can observe relative to latitude (it has changed).
So, I’m not sure what the question is.
My answer was:
Thanks for sharing,
The relationships between biotic processes and environmental factors are well established and the question is not about what is new on that. Under my own point of view, the situation which brings new questions to the table comes when considering possible alterations in the behaviour of the Jet Stream such those pointed out in my post.
All the steps that we can track back in time for the evolution of our biological environment leaves marks in its genetic pool same as the length of seasons leave rings on trees.
The development of complex forms of life have been possible only due to environmental stability within limited margins. Such concept, limited margins allowing time for adaptation, plays a role in the long term “climate”, and in the short term “weather”. This concept incorporates the so difficult understanding of “thresholds” in every biological expression around us. From the threshold which decides if there is enough O2 in a cell to be alive or to die, to the threshold defining temperature variations inducing gene expression that triggers flowering.
Here I am not talking about “Climate” but just weather patterns. Accordingly with this line of thinking, the type of transition between conditions in our environment becomes a relevant matter. Generally, seasons are defined by the transition between environmental conditions been dominated by an increase/decrease in solar irradiance. The changes been induced into biological metabolic mechanisms consequently are sequential. That means, when the flowering process starts there is no coming back even if the conditions change. Same with breeding seasons and so on.
So the main question I bring forward is about how much awareness is it there about the uncertainty that brings the implications for natural systems of potentially having to follow “unexpected” and “abrupt” atmospheric thermal contrasts.
One small example can be seen in some parts of the North of Spain where it has been -10 Celsius in mid Feb, +20 a week ago and start to be -5C again this week.
I am just sharing my thoughts based on my training, trying to bring forward a debate on awareness, learning from the exchange of ideas, that´s all. I don´t have anything to gain in here. I don´t have any agenda. Even as job seeker looking into career development, I am not looking for being judged based on agreement or disagreement. If anything I would like to be judged on the way how I do things. I just want to unify efforts and gather arguments in a multidisciplinary environment. As I have said, I don´t want a job position in which I don´t have the freedom for learning something new which might change my points of view. So far I have the freedom to think by myself and share it. I only hope that such attitude will not play against my chances of finding a job.
Projecting an image.
Communication takes more than just publishing thoughts. If I am projecting an image different from of that of a hard working critical mind, open to discuss values over success, I must definitely work on that.
If you ask me about which are my ambitions, I would say that it has crossed my mind how great it would be to be involved in a project with the implication from several members of the scientific and not scientific community, addressing the effort of unifying criteria into creating a list of relevant unsolved questions. And from them, to study which of those relevant questions have got forgotten and can be answered with the new developments in environmental science.
But, at the moment, I am only trying to solve the problem of not having a stable main income to confront economic pressures or even be able to help those whom are close to me, part of my world, my family and friends.
Competition is high and I can recognise the limitations of my CV. I might not be the one with the best CV around but I believe that I can definitely add an edge into any research project which goes beyond what comes from any standard training. And that my skills, knowledge and attitudes allow me to do it with the scientific rigour required to sustain its value.
A year ago I decided that I should not only shake my cv across different selection processes, but as importantly, I began to create a body of work, through my publications in my blog, to show where I stand and how much I can add with my capabilities and limited resources. With the hope of that my work would make me stand out of the crowd and improve my chances to find a position in research.
I have been waiting and working to have enough material in my blog to call it a body of work. I have reported news, incorporated and discussed data and generated new topics of discussion adding my own interpretation and development of possible scenarios aiming to create awareness where I thought there were gaps of attention.
Altogether I believe that it has reached enough quality content to represent enough value to be incorporated in my profile. But I have to be realistic and not fool myself under my own judgement. So I am always open to receive comments pointing to room for improvement as much as for those much needed giving support. Both types of comments always help to keep in contact with reality and add critical value into my work.
So feel free to join me in with your comments because at the end of the day, communication takes more than just publishing thoughts.