South O’ the Highway

Alan Alda Talks Science on Freakonomics Podcast

In the latest episode of the Freakonomic Radio podcast, Freakonomics co-author and journalist Stephen J. Dubner talks to various intellectuals, including Water Mill’s Alan Alda, about commonly held notions they believe should cast aside.

Alda contributed an essay to the book This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress from edge.org. However, Alda does not believe certain ideas need to be retired. Instead, he wants ideas to be re-examined.

“I love science and I love to read about science, so I am very concerned about how science is communicated,” Alda says.

Alda is a visiting professor at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

He explains that the center uses improv exercises to help scientists relate to lay people.

“They put you in a position where you have to observe the other player,” Alda says of improv exercises. “You have to read the other player’s face and tone of voice. In a way, you have to read the other person’s mind. And that’s … the basis of good communication. You got to know what’s going on in the mind of the person listening to you to know if you are getting through or not.”

In his essay, Alda targets the idea that something is either true or false for all time in all respects.

Stream the podcast at freakonomics.com or here:

Jump about to 24:40 for the interview with Alda.

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