Poland Rethinkerspace or internet trolls and openness

WORKSHOP #1 What do you do when you have to open the first Rethinkerspace meeting? Of course, participants should introduce themselves, but do you do next with agroup of scientists and science bloggers who meet for the first time? One possible icebreakers is to run a mini-survey with them, which in popular magazines is referred to as: “37 questions that will make you fall in love”.

As a Rethinkerspace host I was cautious –  after all, I just wanted them to like each other, so I’ve chosen some questions from Arthur Aron’s research: “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary findings”. Our little experiment on building closeness went surprisingly well and the level of openness was quite high in the group – probably because we left out questions about relationships with the mothers.

So after getting to know each other, we spent one hour sitting in a circle and talking about our problems – it is such a polish thing! Nonetheless, sharing the same stories gives people a sense of community and understanding, and it is easier to start talking about solutions from there.

It wasn’t all serious…there were endless anecdotes about internet trolls and fantastic conspiracy theories that give us thrills but that wasn’t enough. Due to the attention paid to the problem of cognitive biases, which are inherent in the information processing and the great emphasis placed on the issues of education, an idea that appeared and will be developed is the translation of the book “Harry Potter and the Method of Rationality”. The book was written based on the original story, but transformed through scientific method, tracking reasoning errors or other thinking traps. The book was written by E. Yudkowsky and it is a great source of engagement and knowledge about brain functioning. Our plan is to translate it with the help of crowdfunding.

WORKSHOP #2 (held in two sessions). Polish Rethinkerspace took a curious look at the sensemaking theory and is eager to talk about it in a broader context. At this stage, they see it as a tool for one-on-one interviews. The participants identified the need to develop a manual and instructions on how to use sensemaking in practice. Both workshops gave the opportunity to exchange information between professionals, which was their greatest value.

WORKSHOP #3 (June 17th, 2021). The participants agreed that it would be useful for science communicators to have meetings where they could analyze their work, the tools used, but also their reactions and barriers. This conclusion came directly from the practice with the use of diaries and daily recording of observations for a certain period of time.

Openness and reflexivity: too general, it can be used in many industries, not only in scientific communication. It can work better in direct contact (1 on 1). It is difficult to apply to larger events. Workshop participants reported the need to develop protocols of proceedings in scientific communication. It requires a lot of time and would be very difficult to apply in urgent / highly conflict situations. You can use it once in a while, but not possible to use it every day. It is necessary to analyze where there is a limit to the openness of science communicators. Science communicators must know their limits, which may differ from person to person.