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missing the point

Norm has some very valid points.  One of the major efforts of higher
academic thought, it appears, regardless of the discipline is to develop
a language that it uses.  Often, that language is used to exclude the
"uninitiated" (read uneducated, lay public, illiterate, etc.) from the
discussion.  Some practitioners use that exclusionary language to make
themselves appear more knowledgeable, allowing them status over the 
"commoners".  While undoubtedly, the professional language is more
efficient (assuming everyone can agree on the meaning !!), it often can
be replaced with more common words.  As teachers we all do this in our 
lectures to the early initiates.  Often, the common language is not
less informative, but it is less exclusionary.  

I would urge us all to avoid the unnecessary exclusionary language,
to include quick definitions of the more obscure terms, to submit
glossary definitions for the list glossary (who is keeping it by the way?),
and to not slam the people who want to teach the public to enjoy the science.
Should we fail to teach and excite the public, we can be certain that 
the public will come to believe (as many already do), that there is no
need for scientists, science, or science education.  When enough believe
that, we are all out of business!

Bonnie Blackwell,                               bonn@qcvaxa.acc.qc.edu
Dept of Geology,                                (718) 997-3332
Queens College, City University of New York,    fax:  997-3349
Flushing, NY 11367-1597