16 June 2014

Lessons from Quora

Lately, I’ve been wasting time playing around with doing science outreach to engage the public on Quora. Quora is a question and answer site. You can post a question, and people may (or may not) answer it. I’ve been a member for a few years, but haven’t used it much until recently.

I follow a few topics, particularly in scientifically, evolutionary biology and neuroscience are the main ones that pop up in my feed. And it’s been fascinating to see certain kinds of trends in the questions that appear.

In “Evolutionary biology”...
  • A lot of questions are really questions about religion or creationism. 
  • People think every feature of organisms must be adaptive, including human thinking.
 A lot of questions in “Neuroscience”...
  • A lot of questions are really questions about religion or souls.
  • People are obsessed with the idea of downloading consciousness and machine / brain interfaces.

I don’t know is how much those questions that appear are due to some algorithm that’s determined what kinds of questions I click on.
It reminds me of Dr. Karl’s call-in show on Triple J: certain questions come up over and over. And some are topics that you just wouldn’t think so many people would expend mental effort wondering about.

I think it’s worthwhile for researchers to have some sort of site where they can hear people’s random questions. It gives insight into what common conceptions (and misconceptions) are out there, and how sophisticated people’s understanding of scientific concepts is.

External links


No comments: