Don’t be such a scientist

Randy Olson is a film maker and marine biologist who has focused in recent years on the critique of science communication. You may know him from his documentary work on the sexual practices of barnacles, the evolution-creation debate, or global warming.

Randy is coming out with a new book, Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style. It will be available sometimes in August.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

“Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style” has been 30 years in the making. It draws on Randy Olson’s 15 years as a scientist (Ph.D. Harvard University, tenured professor at University of New Hampshire), followed by 15 years of making films (In 1994 he resigned from his marine biology professorship in, moved to Hollywood, entered film school, and took acting classes). The book opens with the pivotal moment in his journey — his first night of acting class when his psychotic acting teacher screamed her lungs out at him for being, “too cerebral.” Thus began his journey of realization that came full circle when he returned to working with scientists and science communicators, and began to concede his acting teacher wasn’t as crazy as he originally thought.

In this short book he draws together what he’s learned about communicating science to the general public, and offers up his observations in the form of four main chapters which he calls, “The Admonitions.” They are:

  1. Don’t Be So Cerebral
  2. Don’t Be So Literal Minded
  3. Don’t Be Such a Poor Storyteller
  4. Don’t Be So Unlikeable

In an effort to practice what he preaches, Olson infuses the book with plenty of humor, storytelling, and even a little bit of emotion.

My review copy is on the way, and I’m looking forward to reading it and letting you know more!

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    May 30, 2009

    1. Don’t Be So Cerebral
    2. Don’t Be So Literal Minded
    3. Don’t Be Such a Poor Storyteller
    4. Don’t Be So Unlikeable

    Do you really need to read any more than that? Show me some evidence that scientists are more likely to be ‘literal minded’, ‘poor storytellers’, or ‘unlikeable’.
    No, not more anecdotes. Some actual data.