General audience and scientific audience

Bob Paine, one the most important ecologists of the last 50 years, comments on his contribution to science.

"[Question]Did you know right away how big of an impact it would have? People spend their entire lives studying your theories.

Oh yes they do, and that produces its own headaches. But here’s a story. When that (keystone species) paper came out, I ordered 600 reprints, they went instantly. I went back to American Naturalist and got 600 more, and they went instantly, I went back again and they said sorry, they couldn’t print anymore. Later, I went home and  talked with my mother, who at  that time was writing small contributions for the New York Times science page, and I bragged, “Mother! Look at how successful this paper has been.” She said: “Son that’s OK, but I have a story to tell you too.” There was a senator, Bill Proxmire from Wisconsin who liked to make fun of science but was also a good environmentalist. She said, “1200 reprints that’s pretty good, but Proxmire asked me for 200,000 reprints of something I’d written for the NYT on the importance of water conservation, and he wanted to send that out to every voter in the state of Wisconsin” I said, “Mother, I am never going to get into another discussion of this sort again.” They were two very different audiences, and hers was possibly a more important one. [emphasis mine]"

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