[ RadSafe ] Risk Communication

Fri May 10 13:17:54 CDT 2013

Really interesting piece, Mark - thanks for bringing it to our

I'd just add one comment to what the author said - if we are going to
talk to the public directly or via the media we can't talk like
scientists and engineers. We have to be able to put our knowledge,
logic, and reasoning into terms that will resonate with the
non-scientist and we have to remember that the target audience is the
public and not our peers. If we are talking to a reporter and thinking
of potential criticism that our peers might make then we are going to be
either very self-conscious or we're going to start sounding like
scientists and we'll lose the intended audience. 

Since I know that my father is going to be watching (or listening)
anytime I'm interviewed I just pretend I'm talking to him - he's a smart
guy who's got a good education, but his grasp of science isn't all that
great. So if I can explain something in terms that would make sense to
him I figure I'm also reaching most people. This also means it's OK to
give a less-than-complete explanation, to use a simple analogy, or even
to leave out some details - it's even OK to leave out some of the
scientific caution we might otherwise be tempted to throw in - since the
goal is to communicate with the general public.

Thanks again for sending out this link, Mark -


P. Andrew Karam, PhD, CHP
Director of Radiological Operations
NYPD Counterterrorism
(718) 615-7055 (desk)
(646) 879-5268 (mobile)

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Miller, Mark L
Sent: Friday, May 10, 2013 12:59 PM


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