Marianne shared this excellent link today. In the article, Henry Scowcroft (a communicator for Cancer Research UK) argues that economics communicators should be more like science communicators and, well, communicate.

I’ve blogged before that economists, accountants, politicians, tax bods and so forth, need to speak plain English, stop obfuscating and let the people who are affected by decisions understand decisions made in their names. We shouldn’t be afraid to stop experts and ask them to explain their terminology. This stuff should be simple.

Sure, some communication is at a very high level and techie, such as in academic media or at a conference, but I’m talking about when these people turn up on Newsnight, in the papers, in your local pub or similar. At that point, they should respect the audience and think about what message they’re trying to get out.

If you don’t own the knowledge, you can’t inform the decision and you can be bloody sure that someone else without your best interests at heart will clue themselves up and get involved instead.

The only message most ‘communicators’ are giving at the moment is that these difficult things are just too darn complicated for you poor little children. We’re going to have a few talking heads talk above your understanding just to show you with jolly long words that you really don’t get it. You’d best toddle off now and let the grownups carry on with the adult stuff.

And that isn’t on. Invariably this is your money, your body, your country. You’re not children (unless you are, in which case, hi, sorry for the swearing!) Everybody needs to challenge the experts to be more accessible, because there really are some amazing communicators out there, whether they’re a physicist, a doctor, an economist or whatever. Seriously – here Brian Cox explained quantum theory to a bunch of celebs and he made it so simple. Everyone can either do that, or get out of the way for someone who can.

Next time you see someone chucking long words around like bullshit artillery, ask yourself what their goal is; because if it isn’t to communicate, it’s almost certainly to hoodwink or rip you off.

And then pull out your bullshit shield of obstinate scepticism. (This looks and sounds rather like just saying ‘why?’ a lot, to the casual observer.) Once someone has offered to communicate with you, make them do just that. Close the door, sit them down, and jolly well interrogate them until you are happy that either you understand enough to form an educated opinion or enough to know that you really don’t care.

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