Philip Ball on explaining science

"But the need for metaphor in science stands at risk of becoming dogma. Maybe we are too eager to find a neat metaphor rather than just explain what is going on as clearly and honestly as we can."

- Philip Ball, writing in Nature

The use of metaphors in explaining science has long been lauded as the easiest and most approachable way to explain scientific concepts. From the selfish gene to the Big Bang, teachers, communicators and writers the world over have embraced evocative analogies to get their point across. Ball, however, cites recently published data suggesting that different metaphors can unexpectedly sway people in different directions, and therefore should be more closely scrutinized for their underlying power to potentially mislead.

Ball's piece is available without a subscription to Nature.