In a book review on a NPR site the word "civilian" is used to describe non-scientist people (emphasis mine).
His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about communication — and miscommunication — between scientists and civilians.
That formulation gave me the impression that the author wanted to show scientists like a tight group with a tendency to use brute force to impose their point of view (like the police and army are allowed to do by definition). The definitions of civilian are all primarily related to the army or police fields, Webster, Collins.
Is there a word –not formed with negative suffix, such as non-scientist– that could replace civilian to describe non-scientist in the sentence below without any of the following:
any military/police force connotation,
"us against them" vibe
negative connotation against either "civilian" or scientist?
(Outsider does not fit either, it also feels too polarized.)
His new book, is all about miscommunication between scientists and XXXXX