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Making Sense of Science with Alan Alda

Have you ever asked a question, but were left unsatisfied with the answer? Perhaps the answer was too complicated, too long-winded or just plain confusing.  

A good answer will be one that makes sense to the person asking - something that veteran actor and science-enthusiast Alan Alda realised after guests on his documentary programme “Scientific American Frontiers” bored audiences with constant jargon.   

Alda’s solution? Improv.  

Using games and improv techniques, Alda taught participants a fundamental skill: empathy. By focusing on other people, thinking about the non-verbal cues they’re sending AND receiving, participants learn to see communication as a two-way process, rather than a one-way street. And he didn’t stop there. In 2009, Stony Brook University opened the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.  

But why is good communication so important? We need scientists to advise us on life-or-death issues, providing information that’s technically complex and often politically controversial; if they can’t communicate these messages clearly, they’re in danger of being misinterpreted or ignored altogether which could spell disaster for our society…

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