Tuesday 4th Feb, 2:15 pm
Science communication rests on the primacy of fact, yet facts are only part of what drives human affairs. We are still strongly influenced by the emotions and instincts hard-wired into us by evolution. Despite Enlightenment hopes of a more rational world, irrationality – in less pejorative terms, the triumph of emotion over fact – still exerts a huge influence over human societies.
That throws up some anomalies that would have dismayed Enlightment thinkers. Climate change, a phenomenon whose existence is supported by record quantities of data, remains a fuzzy issue in the minds of many. That is not a fault of the science: there is a communication problem.
Marketers and politicians have long realised that “data dumps” are not effective at shifting perceptions. The most effective stories, whether they are told by advertisers, Hollywood or radio “shock jocks”, engage emotions. So do the best science stories.
This presentation, more an enquiry than a lecture, looks at how perceptions are shaped, and looks at how short-form journalism might more deeply engage its audience through emotion.