Thursday, 23 June 2016

How to alienate a chunk of your readership

I've read one of Hugh Aldersey-Williams books, and enjoyed Periodic Tales, and the Popular Science Anatomies, but I hadn't come across his 2015 title The Adventures of Sir Thomas Browne in the 21st Century and when coming across its existence in an interview with Aldersey-Williams in the Guardian, I was thinking about paying money to get hold of a copy, but then I came to this rather remarkable paragraph:
site has reviewed another,
While The Adventures of Sir Thomas Browne in the 21st Century was much praised, Aldersey-Williams now feels its message was missed by readers of popular science. “There’s no point in making ultra-subtle points about how science is done,” he says. “You have to bang them over the head with it. They want scientific facts and they want science explained to them, which I’m less and less interested in.”
Frankly, I think that is profoundly condescending and insulting to the readers of popular science. The best popular science writing manages to give the reader both context and the science - Aldersey-Williams has never been particularly strong on the science, but because he finds science difficult to write about doesn't mean he should take it out on his readers. I think I will be giving his books a miss from now on.

UPDATE - after the author pointed out this was something of a petty response I have read and reviewed his book on Browne.

1 comment:

  1. You do so well in communicating difficult concepts to your readers, that's terrible a popular science author has that attitude.

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