Science communication is having an outsized effect on the scientific job market as well, Sanford points out, with people carving out careers in a field that didn’t exist a decade ago.
Though social media’s open access regularly serves as a double-edged sword, with conspiracy theorists intentionally spreading misinformation online, both McAnulty and Sanford remain optimistic that the scientific community will be able to minimize the damage those bad-faith actors might cause.
"With the access that people have, especially social media, I am seeing so many more scientists, talking to people not just to each other, but to people who are just like, ‘Oh, what is this thing you study? ” Sanford noted.
The field of science communication — the practice of informing and educating people about science-related topics — arose just after the start of the Enlightenment when Francesco Algarotti published his first edition of Newtonianism for the Ladies in 1737.
"It was right after the election and I noticed that there was all this energy in the community, thinking about how we could better communicate our science to the public," University of Connecticut PhD student Sarah McAnulty told Engadget.
McAnulty notes that mainstream science media outlets like the Discovery Channel or NatGeo will cast their scientist hosts based on who will return the best ratings.
"I guess one of the goals for my science communication, and my career, is to help people connect with sources of information that they can trust".
" Sanford quipped, "Now people are calling themselves science communicators all over the place. It’s amazing".
"The only radio show at the time in the area that I lived, was Science Friday, which was great, but that was it," Sanford said.
While that bit of 18th century mansplaining doesn’t really hold up by today’s standards, in the nearly three centuries since, the pace of scientific progress has only accelerated — with science communication evolving alongside it.
The advent of social media, in particular, is an unprecedented, powerful tool for science communicators.
Without that social media aspect of scientists talking to each other on Twitter, I can’t imagine I would have gotten this many teachers or scientists".