Alan Alda is Communicating Science

I took a solo road trip once that led me through that empty, boring part of the country where there is only one radio station.  Since I don’t have an iPod, and I was tired of my CDs, I was forced to listen to talk radio, or else risk driving into a cornfield out of pure boredom.

And I’d taken this trip before.  From what I can tell, this radio station features a preacher with an Irish accent repeating himself about the bible twenty hours a day, and a man with an Ethiopian accent talking about the bible for three hours each day.

But I landed on the “science hour” or something apparently.  It was good luck, I guess.  The voice I heard was excellent.  I went, “Is that Alan Alda!?” And it was!  It was awesome.

This is what he’s doing nowadays.  He runs workshops for scientists, training them to be fluent in normal-people-speak, less dependent on scientific jargon.  Jargon, he said, is a huge barrier to non-scientists’ ability to understand the big ideas of science.  And science really, really needs to be understood.  He talked about politics, and he touched on some of what we just discussed in class today.

I feel good knowing that this is going on, and even better knowing that it’s being publicized in that backwoods part of the country where Gen-e-sis and Le-vit-i-cus are seemingly the biggest words any ever hears.  In a place like that especially, like in Dellarobia’s neighborhood, scientific jargon stands little chance of being comprehended–and folksy locals everywhere still need to be convinced of the facts of evolution, climate change, and equality of sexuality and race.  Alan Alda’s doing good work.

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