"A greater fear of boredom than of poverty"

1 minute read

The New York Times has a profile of "Flock of Dodos" filmmaker Randy Olson:

The biologist, Randy Olson, accepts that there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth. He agrees that intelligent design's embrace of a supernatural "agent" puts it outside the realm of science.
But when he watches the advocates of intelligent design at work, he sees pleasant people who speak plainly, convincingly and with humor. When scientists he knows talk about evolution, they can be dour, pompous and disagreeable, even with one another. His film challenges them to get off their collective high horse and make their case to ordinary people with -- if they can muster it -- a smile.
Otherwise, he suggests, they will end up in the collective cultural backwash just like the dodo.

The story about the colleague who said "um" every seven seconds and only talked to his slides instead of the audience will be familiar to anyone who's attended a scientific meeting. Or, for that matter, college.

The film has gotten a lot of press for its illustration of scientists who can't articulate their work or beliefs to the public.

Though many in science bemoan their collective inability to get their messages across to the public, big grant-makers have yet to embrace Dr. Olson's approach.
"I get hundreds of inquiries from students and graduate students wanting to do what I am doing, to get into this interface between science and the media," Dr. Olson said. "There just isn't any financial support for it. The science world does not understand media, does not support it. They don't see the need for innovation."
Dr. Jackson said some scientists, even those interested in communicating science, "squirm" at Dr. Olson's irreverent approach. Others wonder whether his wry humor will translate to a wider audience.

I hope it does great business -- it really seems like a worthwhile message. If you don't like the way science is marketed, then market it yourself!