Two of my biggest passions in this world are science and storytelling.
I love consuming great stories, whether they be written or spoken, and this is not unusual.
One of the key elements of humanity across all races and backgrounds is our ability to construct stories as well as our love of hearing them.
We do it every time we relate what has happened to us to someone else.
We do it to create lessons. Allegories are lessons constructed as stories. The moral lessons explained in religions or fairy tales or folklore are conveyed (or hidden) beneath great stories.
We do it in the way that we think of ourselves and explain ourselves. We create a narrative in our mind that when we need to explain to another we express out loud.
We do it when we watch sport. Think of the classic – underdog rises up, ripping victory from the jaws of defeat with a last gasp victory. The hero of the day and his tragic family tale but at long last has found redemption. Etc etc.
Which could alternatively be told as. Many men chase ball around park. One team one. One player got slightly more of the ball than others.
Stories make boring things interesting.
Which is why science frustrates me so much.
Science is fascinating. It is the explanation of how things work.
It should be the most interesting story in the world.
Whether the science be that of the universe, of physics or the body (and all that entails) it’s fascinating.
So why is it so poorly told?
Science is so often hidden in journal articles more mind numbing than the 1980’s English
Jargon, numbers, unintelligible graphs are all used to explain a microcosm of what is occurring.
And then that knowledge is left there. For academics and clinicians to read through and do what they will with. It is rare that a scientist then goes to the effort to break the concept down so that normal people can understand it.
Occasionally a savvy journalist will come across a headline they like, read a bit of the journal and think ‘great we can use this’.
A quick flash back:
2015 – “Bacon is the new smoking.”
2014 – “Veggie Juices Cure Cancer”
2013 – “Sitting is the new smoking”
Which is where this rant is leading toward. Scientists and those that are science trained need to make more of an effort to explain science.
They need to make it not just accessible to the public but interesting to the public. They need to make it exciting. They need to use analogies that help it make sense.
Because if they don’t….we have what is occurring now.
A void in the conveyance of health information to the public.
A void that is then filled with those that know how to tell a story.
A void that is filled with inspiration stories of self discovery.
A void that is filled with an inspirational story of how one woman overcame the medical establishment and cured her cancer with juices and vegetables.
A void that is filled by personal trainers blessed with genetic good luck explaining how this exercise or that exercise will make you look like them.
A void that is filled with health writers in the mastheads writing articles based on the blogs of other non educated people that is aimed at getting the most clicks possible.
Which is not to say these people that are currently filling this void should be ignored. Not at all.
Scientists must learn from them.
The insta babes, the muscle bound bro’s, the wellness warriors and the beauty bloggers that currently occupy this void are brilliant at narrative.
They tell great stories. They mix their personal tales with selling something. A product, a cookbook, an exercise routine, lifestyle etc. And it works.
But if scientists were to learn how to tell an interesting tale, to mix their personal journey with their discoveries this void may begin to be filled.
And then good science may actually reach the public and not be left to moulder in the libraries of universities.
The attached article is from today’s Age. It is a great article in celebration of the upcoming Science Communicators Conference.
The irony is that The Age is as bad as any at peddling misinformation and click-baitable health care.
Errol St Osteo: Sincerely Wants Greater Health Dissemination to Occur Via Good Storytelling in 2016
For more stories on health check out http://errolstosteo.com.au/how-the-body-works/