Alan Alda’s Experiment: Helping Scientists Learn To Talk To The Rest Of Us

An NPR interview with Alan Alda about his efforts to help scientists learn to communicate.

“People are dying because we can’t communicate in ways that allow us to understand one another,” he writes. “It sounds like an exaggeration, but I don’t think it is. When patients can’t relate to their doctors and don’t follow their orders, when engineers can’t convince a town that the dam could break, when a parent can’t win the trust of a child to warn her off a lethal drug. They can all be headed for a serious ending.”

“I think many of us feel: “Wait a minute, you told me a year ago red wine was good for me. Now you’re telling me it’s not. … What’s going on here? Can’t you make up your mind?” … That’s also a communication question. I think there are basic things about science that people should be helped to understand. For instance, any one study is not supposed to arrive at the truth for all time. It gets us a little closer to truth. Almost every research paper that I read says at the end: “More research is called for.” I wish articles about science would include that more. This is not the final word.”

Read (and listen) to the interview here.