The Netflix movie Don’t Look Up is one that hit close to home.
It’s a story about scientists trying to warn the rest of the world of a comet that will destroy the planet. They communicate it the only way they know how, through available data and science, but fail to deliver a message that lay people could understand and relate to. Their cause gets hijacked by political and corporate agendas, without creating any real change.
The movie directly points towards the neglect of climate change conversations but this is the case with many urgent scientific matters, more recently the pandemic.
The communication gap that exists between science and the masses is real.
These are a few thoughts I was left with after watching the movie:
1. Traditional science communication is uncompelling. The gaps it leaves are quick to get filled by conspiracy theories, which provide much quicker & emotionally satisfying answers.
2. People really don’t want to listen to scientific jargon that’s delivering bad news. These discussions are not trendy, don’t fit into mainstream narratives and are considered almost toxic by the standards of today.
3. It takes a lot of integrity and patience to be the person that continues to stand up to mainstream misinformation and communicate accurate information, rather than sharing more popular, easy going opinions.
These seem like really simple issues but they are one of many reasons great scientific advancements have little impact on day to day life.
If COVID-19 taught us anything about science communication, it’s that hammering people with data and research results does not work.
No matter how clear the data is, it doesn’t get through.
What could possibly work instead?
Conversations that deliver scientifically sound messages in a meaningful way.