Alda on Effective Science Communication
A blog post on the Scholarly Kitchen concerns Alan Alda’s talk at the AAAS meeting:
Although Alda didn’t mention this explicitly, one of the premises of his talk is that this approach to communication is grounded in the study of the arts. During his speech, Alda discussed the work his team has done at Stony Brook on the effect on scientists of participating in theatrical improvisation exercises. The scientists who had undertaken this training were more engaged and more colorful afterwards when describing their work. This is an example where one discipline (humanities) can play a role in helping another discipline (science) become better, not in the underlying work of the discipline, but in communicating that work to those outside the discipline. The result is not “dumbing down” the science; it is taking complex data, analysis, and arguments and distilling them clearly and concisely to others who have a desire or need to understand.