Transcript: David Lindberg on The Floretine Heretic | Jun 25, 2005

Preston Manning stands behind a wooden lectern in front of a large banner in tones of green and purple, that reads "Let's talk science. Letstalkscience.ca"
Preston is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a dark blue suit and a black shirt.

He says WELL I'D
LIKE TO JUST ADD MY THANKS TO
THE ORGANISERS FOR GIVING ME
THIS OPPORTUNITY, TO UH, NOT
JUST TO MEET WITH YOU, BUT TO
FIND OUT A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
THE, "LET'S TALK SCIENCE
PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM."
I UNDERSTAND THAT THE PROGRAM
INVOLVES UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
PARTICULARLY IN THE SCIENCES
PARTNERING WITH TEACHERS IN THE
SCHOOLS TO TRY TO INTEREST
YOUNGER PEOPLE IN THE SCIENCE
PERSPECTIVE, PARTICULARLY AT AN
EARLY AGE, AND THAT OTHERS OF
YOU DO SIMILAR TYPES OF
OUTREACH, AND I'D JUST LIKE TO
ENCOURAGE YOU.
I THINK THAT'S AN EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT -- I MEAN IT'S A
TRUISM THAT SCIENCE IS A
DRIVING FORCE IN SOCIETY,
WHETHER YOU TALK ABOUT THE
ECONOMY OR THE SOCIAL SIDE OF
THINGS, AND THE IMPERATIVE THAT
YOUNGER PEOPLE BE INTRODUCED TO
SCIENCE IN AN EXCITING WAY,
EARLY RATHER THAN LATE,
COULDN'T BE A MORE IMPORTANT
FUNCTION.
SO I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU FOR
WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Preston Manning. Bridging the gap between science and politics. University of Toronto. January 28, 2005. www.letstalkscience.ca"

Preston continues I LOOK
FORWARD TO FINDING OUT MORE
ABOUT IT, BUT JUST ENCOURAGE
YOU TO CONTINUE WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
I THINK THAT'S UH...
THE COUNTRY NEEDS IT, AND
YOU'RE FILLING A GENUINE GAP,
NOT SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN
MANUFACTURED.
NOW MY CONTRIBUTION TODAY, I'M
NOT SURE HOW GREAT IT'S GOING
TO BE, BUT I'M INVOLVED IN SORT
OF A SCIENCE OUTREACH PROGRAM
OF MY OWN.
I'VE BEEN CONSCIOUS THAT THERE'S A BIG
GAP BETWEEN THE POLITICAL
COMMUNITY AND THE SCIENCE
COMMUNITY, AND IT'S A DANGEROUS
GAP AND A WORRISOME GAP,
BECAUSE SO MANY OF THE PUBLIC
POLICY ISSUES TODAY ARE SCIENCE
BASED, OR AT LEAST SCIENCE HAS
SOME ANSWERS TO SOME OF THE
PROBLEMS.
THE WHOLE ISSUE OF GLOBAL
WARMING, KYOTO, IS BASICALLY A
SCIENCE BASED ISSUE, THE SARS
EPIDEMIC OR CRISIS AND HOW WE
RESPOND TO IT INVOLVES SCIENCE,
BSE, YOU CAN GO THROUGH A LONG
LIST.
AND I THINK IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT THAT THE LEGISLATORS
GET UP TO -- GET UP TO SPEED
MUCH MORE, ON THE SCIENCES.
IN THE CURRENT PARLIAMENT, THAT
WAS JUST ELECTED THE LAST
ELECTION, THERE'S NOT A SINGLE
SCIENTIST IN THE WHOLE 308 MPs,
THERE'S NOT A SINGLE SCIENTIST
IN ANY PARTY CAUCUS INCLUDING
THE GOVERNMENT CAUCUS.
SO WHEN THESE SCIENCE BASED
ISSUES COME ALONG, THEY'RE
WHOLLY DEPENDENT ON STAFF.
IF YOU GO THROUGH THE UPPER
LEVELS OF STAFF, ON PARLIAMENT
HILL PARTICULARLY, YOU'LL FIND
POLITICAL SCIENCE, HISTORY, LAW
LOTS OF LAW STUDENTS, AND
PEOPLE WITH LEGAL BACKGROUNDS,
BUT VERY LITTLE SCIENCE.
SO THERE'S A GAP THERE, AND
I'VE BEEN -- AS I SAY, I TEACH
THIS COURSE AT U OF T ON PUBLIC
POLICY AND THE GENETIC
REVOLUTION, AND BASICALLY WE'RE
EXPLORING, HOW CAN YOU BRIDGE
THE GAP BETWEEN THE LIFE
SCIENCES AND THE POLITICAL PEOPLE.
AND WHAT I'D LIKE TO GO
THROUGH, IS A FEW OF THE
PRINCIPLES, STRATEGIES, AND
EXPERIENCE THAT I'VE HAD IN
TRYING TO OUTREACH BETWEEN THE
POLITICAL COMMUNITY AND THE
SCIENCE COMMUNITY.
IN A WAY, IT'S A SCIENCE
OUTREACH A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT
THAN WHAT YOU ARE DOING, BUT
I'M HOPEFUL THAT SOME OF THOSE
PRINCIPLES, STRATEGIES,
EXPERIENCES MIGHT BE RELEVANT
TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
AND MY OWN INTEREST IS KIND OF
AN AMATEUR INTEREST IN SCIENCE.
I ACTUALLY STARTED OUT IN
UNIVERSITY IN PHYSICS.
I SPENT THREE YEARS IN AN
HONOURS PHYSICS PROGRAM AT
UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA.
THEN I COULDN'T HANDLE THE
MATH, SO I WENT INTO ECONOMICS,
WHICH TELLS YOU SOMETHING ABOUT
BOTH ECONOMICS AND PHYSICS.
[Audience Laughter]
BUT I'LL STRAY FROM THAT.
THE FIRST THING I'D LIKE TO
MAKE A POINT ABOUT IS, THERE IS
SUCH A THING AS A SCIENCE OF
COMMUNICATIONS.
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO STUDY, HOW
DOES AN IDEA GET FROM ONE
PERSON'S HEAD TO ANOTHER.
IT'S A KIND OF A DIVERSE
DISCIPLINE, BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE
COME AT IT THROUGH PSYCHOLOGY
AND NEUROLOGY, THE WHOLE
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS FIELD
HAS MODELS OF COMMUNICATION
THAT ARE QUITE INTERESTING, BUT
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A
SCIENCE OF COMMUNICATION, AND
ONE THING I SUGGEST TO
SCIENTISTS IS THAT YOU MAKE AN
APPLICATION -- APPLY THE
SCIENCE OF COMMUNICATION TO THE
COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE.
APPLY THE SCIENCE OF
COMMUNICATION TO THE
COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE,
BECAUSE MOST SCIENTISTS WILL
LISTEN TO COMMUNICATION WHEN
IT'S DISCUSSED IN A SCIENTIFIC
WAY FROM A SCIENTIFIC
PERSPECTIVE, MORE THAN THEY
WILL FROM SOME P.R. FLAK OR
POLITICIAN.
YOU KNOW, BECAUSE IF YOU COME
AT COMMUNICATION FROM A
SCIENTIFIC STANDPOINT, IT
RESONATES BETTER WITH SOMEONE
WITH A SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND.
AND IF YOU LOOK A LITTLE BIT AT
THE SCIENCE OF COMMUNICATION,
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THOSE
PEOPLE SAY IS THAT -- AND THIS
IS A GROSS SIMPLIFICATION, WITH
APOLOGIES TO PEOPLE WHO ARE
EXPERTS IN THIS FIELD -- THAT
SOME OF US ARE SOURCE ORIENTED
COMMUNICATORS, IF YOU THINK OF
COMMUNICATIONS AS A SOURCE AND
A RECEIVER AND THERE'S A MEDIA
IN BETWEEN AND COMMUNICATION IS
GOING BACK AND FORTH WITH
FEEDBACK, THAT KIND OF A MODEL.
SOME OF US ARE SOURCE ORIENTED
COMMUNICATORS.
WE COMMUNICATE WITH OTHER
PEOPLE BY SAYING WHAT IT IS WE
WANT TO SAY, IN THE WAY WE WANT
TO SAY IT, WITH THE MEDIA THAT
WE ARE MOST COMFORTABLE WITH.
SO IF I'M A POLITICIAN, AND I'M
TRYING TO GET YOU INTERESTED IN
DEMOCRACY, BECAUSE CANADA'S GOT
A PROBLEM WITH DECLINING
INTEREST IN DEMOCRACY, MY
NATURAL INCLINATION IS TO START
TALKING ABOUT THAT ISSUE FROM
MY PERSPECTIVE, GETTING INTO
PROCESSES LIKE ELECTIONS, AND
INSTITUTIONS, AND I'M MOST
COMFORTABLE WITH THE PUBLIC
SPEAKING MODEL, BECAUSE THAT'S
WHAT POLITICIANS DO, THEY GIVE
SPEECHES WHEN THEY WANT TO
COMMUNICATE, THEY GO OUT AND
GIVE SPEECHES.
NOW THAT MAY BE ALL VERY WELL
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, BUT THAT
MAY NOT BE, FROM--
YOUR HEAD MIGHT NOT BE THERE AT
ALL, AND YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN
LIKE THAT PARTICULAR MODE OF
COMMUNICATION.
BUT SOURCE ORIENTED
COMMUNICATORS DO THE
COMMUNICATING FROM THEIR
PERSPECTIVE.
AND SCIENTISTS ARE REALLY
CLASSIC SOURCE ORIENTED
COMMUNICATORS, MOST OF THEM.
BECAUSE THE WHOLE TRAINING OF
HOW THEY COMMUNICATE IS REALLY
SHAPED IN A WAY BY THE
SCIENTIFIC METHOD.
THAT YOU HAVE A MOMENT OF
INSPIRATION, YOU FORMULATE A
HYPOTHESIS, YOU DO EXPERIMENTS,
YOU TEST THE HYPOTHESIS, YOU
COME TO A VERIFIED HYPOTHESIS,
AND THAT'S YOUR CONCLUSION.
AND WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU, WHAT
ARE YOU DOING, YOU TEND TO GO
THROUGH THAT PROCESS.
YOU EXPLAIN YOU COMMUNICATE THE
WAY IT'S NATURAL TO YOU.
AND THERE'S ALL SORTS OF ARENAS
WHERE THAT'S ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE.
AT LEARNED SOCIETY MEETINGS, WHERE YOU'RE
TALKING WITH OTHER SCIENTISTS
AND LEARNING WITH OTHER PAPERS,
READ BY OTHER SCIENTISTS,
THAT'S A PERFECTLY NATURAL WAY
TO DO IT.
BUT THERE'S ANOTHER APPROACH
WHICH THE COMMUNICATION PEOPLE
TELL US, WHICH IS RECEIVER
ORIENTED COMMUNICATION.
WHICH STARTS, NOT FROM WHAT I WANT TO
SAY, BUT STARTS WITH THE
QUESTION, WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE,
AND WHERE IS YOUR HEAD?
AND WHAT IS IT YOU ARE WILLING
TO LISTEN TO, AND WHAT MEDIA DO
YOU PREFER, NOT WHICH ONE DO I PREFER.
AND GEARING YOUR COMMUNICATIONS
AS RECEIVER ORIENTED.
AND MOST GOOD DEMOCRATIC
POLITICIANS ARE RECEIVER
ORIENTED POLITICIANS, OR
COMMUNICATORS.
THEY START, NOT WITH, WHAT DO I
WANT TO SAY, BUT WHAT'S THE
AUDIENCE PREPARED TO LISTEN TO.
AND THEN THEY'LL GET AROUND TO,
WHAT DO I WANT TO SAY, BUT YOU
START WITH WHERE YOU'RE AT.
SO ONE OF THE FIRST POINTS I'D
LIKE TO MAKE, IS THE PRINCIPLE
IN COMMUNICATING SCIENCE,
PARTICULARLY TO NON SCIENTIFIC
AUDIENCES, IF WE COULD BE MORE
RECEIVER ORIENTED THAN SOURCE
ORIENTED, I THINK WE'LL GET
FURTHER.
WHETHER WE'RE TALKING TO
POLITICIANS, OR KIDS IN
SCHOOLS, OR SERVICE CLUBS OR
WHATEVER.
AND I BROUGHT ALONG JUST A
LITTLE -- BECAUSE WHEN I WAS IN
PARLIAMENT, I USED TO GIVE LOTS
OF SPEECHES, AND DO LOTS OF...
I USED TO GIVE ABOUT 200
SPEECHES A YEAR, ACTUALLY, AND
IN FRAMING--
HERE'S HOW A POLITICIAN...
HERE'S THE KIND OF QUESTIONS A
POLITICIAN GOES THROUGH, THIS
IS AN ILLUSTRATION MORE FOR
RECEIVER ORIENTED
COMMUNICATORS.
IT STARTS WITH WHO'S THE TARGET
OF MY COMMUNICATION.
IT DOESN'T START WITH WHAT I
WANT TO SAY.
WHO'S THE TARGET, WHAT DO WE
KNOW ABOUT THEM?
WHAT'S THEIR ATTITUDES, VALUES,
BACKGROUND -- WHAT'S THEIR
INSTINCTIVE IMPRESSION OF ME AS
THE COMMUNICATOR.
IS THERE ANY COMMON GROUND, ARE
THERE ANY MAJOR DIFFERENCES...
TRYING TO THINK THROUGH THE
AUDIENCE.
SOMETIMES YOU'RE DOING THIS
WHILE YOU'RE SITTING ON THE
PLATFORM, JUST WATCHING AND YOU
ADJUST YOUR--
A GOOD COMMUNICATOR WILL
ADJUST.
THESE PEOPLE ARE BORED BEFORE I
START, SORT OF THING, SO I
BETTER--
[Audience Laughter]
WHAT IS THE CONTEXT IN WHICH
THE COMMUNICATION OCCURS?
LIKE, WHAT IS IT-- IS IT GOING
TO BE IN A CLASSROOM, IS IT
GOING TO BE IN A BIG MEETING
WITH 1,000 PEOPLE, ARE THERE
DEMONSTRATORS OUTSIDE, IS THE
TENSION HIGH -- LOW?
WHAT'S THE CONTEXT IN WHICH I'M--
EVEN THE DATE, THE SEASON, THE
YEAR, PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT IN
THE SUMMER THAN THEY ARE IN
DECEMBER.
YOU TRY TO THINK THAT THROUGH.
HOW MIGHT THIS-- WHAT'S THEIR
EMOTIONAL STATE, HOW IS THEIR
PSYCHOLOGICAL CLIMATE.
WHAT ARE THE COMPETING
MESSAGES?
LIKE, PEOPLE ARE BOMBARDED WITH
MESSAGES.
LIKE, I'M GOING TO TALK TO YOU
ABOUT THIS SUBJECT, BUT MAYBE
YOU READ SOMETHING IN THE PAPER
THIS MORNING, AND THAT'S WHAT'S
ON YOUR MIND.
OR PEOPLE ARE SITTING THERE, MY
NOSE IS ITCHY, IT'S TOO HOT IN HERE.
YOU'RE COMPETING WITH ALL OF
THOSE MESSAGES.
WHAT AM I COMPETING WITH?
WHO IS THE BEST ONE TO CONVEY
THIS MESSAGE?
WE OFTEN THINK IT'S US THAT'S
THE BEST ONE TO DO IT, BUT
OFTEN WE WOULD ASK, OUT OF
WHOSE MOUTH IS THIS MESSAGE
MOST CREDIBLE?
MAYBE IT'S NOT ME, MAYBE IT'S
SOMEBODY ELSE.
WHAT IS THE RESPONSE I'M TRYING
TO GET FROM THIS TYPE--
WHAT IS IT THAT I WANT YOU TO
DO AT THE END OF THE DAY?
DO I WANT YOU TO SIGN
SOMETHING, DO I WANT YOU TO
VOTE, DO I WANT YOU TO GIVE
MONEY, WANT YOU TO STAND UP AND CHEER?
WHAT IS IT THAT I WANT FROM YOU?
AND HAVING THAT CLEAR IN MY MIND.
WHAT IS THE NET IMPRESSION THAT
I WANT TO LEAVE WITH THE
AUDIENCE, NOT JUST THE
PARTICULARS, BUT IS THERE SOME
NET IMPRESSION THAT I WANT TO LEAVE?
AND THEN, HAVING ANSWERED ALL
THOSE QUESTIONS, THEN GET INTO
WHAT MESSAGE, FIRED INTO YOUR
BRAIN IN THAT CONTEXT, ON THAT
DAY, WITH ALL THAT NOISE, WILL
PRODUCE THE RESPONSE THAT I WANT.
IT'S THE RECEIVER ORIENTED
APPROACH, VERSUS THE SOURCE
ORIENTED APPROACH, AND I THINK
IT'S GOT A LOT OF IMPLICATIONS
FOR TRYING TO COMMUNICATE SCIENCE.
NOW THE SECOND THING I'D JUST
TOUCH ON, IS A COUPLE OF
STRATEGIES FOR COMMUNICATING
SCIENCE, THAT THESE WORK IN THE
POLITICAL ARENA, AND PRESUMABLY
THEY MIGHT WORK IN SOME OF THE
ARENAS YOU'RE WORKING ON.
THE FIRST ONE IS SORT OF -- IT
MIGHT BE CALLED, FINDING THE
HOOK, AND THIS INVOLVES GETTING
PEOPLE'S ATTENTION.
AND PARTICULARLY, THE MORE BUSY
YOUR AUDIENCE IS, AND WITH KIDS
IT'S THE SAME, BECAUSE THEY GOT
A LOT OF OTHER THINGS THAT
THEY'RE THINKING ABOUT BESIDES
WHAT YOU COME INTO, BUT WITH A
POLITICIAN, THEY'RE SITTING
THERE IN OTTAWA GETTING 1,000
MESSAGES A DAY, EVERYTHING FROM
SOME CONSTITUENT THAT'S
SCREAMING ABOUT EMPLOYMENT
CHEQUE WAS LATE, SOME PENSIONER
THAT'S GOT THIS PROBLEM, TO
SOMEONE WITH IMMIGRATION--
AND YOU'RE TRYING TO TALK TO
THEM ABOUT SCIENCE, WHY THEY
SHOULD GET--
SO HOW DO YOU GET THEIR
ATTENTION?
IT'S LIKE THAT OLD STORY OF THE
MULE THAT YOU WANTED TO GO TO
THE LEFT OF THE RIGHT, BUT THE
FELLA USED TO BAT THE MULE ON
THE HEAD BETWEEN THE EARS,
FIRST, JUST TO GET HIS
ATTENTION, SO THEN HE WOULD
LISTEN TO THE SIGNAL.
AND THE UH...
ONE OF THE WAYS FOR DOING THAT
IS JUST TO FIND SOMETHING THAT
THAT AUDIENCE IS INTERESTED IN,
THAT IS CONNECTED TO SCIENCE.
AND THIS MAY SEEM SELF-EVIDENT,
AND PUTTING THAT HOOK UP FRONT,
RATHER THAN PUTTING IT WAY BACK
IN YOUR STORY.
A FEW YEARS AGO THERE WAS UM...
WELL I GUESS THEY'RE STILL
WORKING AT IT.
THE PEOPLE AT ATOMIC ENERGY
WERE TRYING TO GET THE
PARLIAMENT TO PUT UP ABOUT 500
MILLION DOLLARS TO BUILD A
NEUTRON REACTOR AT CHALK RIVER,
BASICALLY FOR MATERIALS
RESEARCH PURPOSES.
AND THAT'S A FAIR CHUNK OF MONEY.
AND I WAS INTERESTED IN THAT,
SO I GOT-- I WAS THE SCIENCE
CRITIC FOR OUR PARTY FOR A WHILE.
SO I ROUNDED UP A SMALL GROUP
OF OUR MPs, WHO WERE SORT OF
INTERESTED IN THAT, AND WHY
DON'T WE GO UP TO CHALK RIVER
AND FIND OUT WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT?
SO GOT A FEW OF THESE PEOPLE UP THERE,
AND THERE WAS A PRESENTATION
MADE TO THEM, THE OBJECTIVE OF
WHICH WAS TO GET THESE GUYS TO
SUPPORT THE NEUTRON GENERATOR.
BUT HERE'S SORT OF HOW IT WENT.
IT STARTED OUT WITH PHYSICS 101.
WHAT IS A NEUTRON, YOU'VE GOT
TO START WITH THE POLITICIANS
PRETTY FAR BACK.

[Audience Laughter]

Preston continues YOU KNOW, HOW CAN YOU GENERATE
A NEUTRON BEAM, WHAT'S A
NUCLEAR REACTOR, WHAT'S FISSION
AND HOW DOES A REACTOR WORK.
HOW DO YOU GENERATE A BEAM?
TRY TO EXPLAIN IT'S SORT OF
LIKE AN X-RAY THAT THEN ALLOWS
YOU TO EXAMINE THE STRUCTURE OF
THE MATERIAL, AND THERE WAS
THIS SORT OF PHYSICS 101 THING
FOR QUITE A WHILE.
I COULD SEE THE MPs STARTING TO...
YOU KNOW, THIS WAS INTERESTING BUT--
AND THEN THE FELLA WHO WAS
DOING IT, WHO WAS AN EMINENT
SCIENTIST AND VERY, VERY
QUALIFIED IN WHAT HE WAS
TALKING ABOUT.
THERE WAS NO PROBLEM WITH THE
SOURCE.
THEN HE TOOK THEM ON A LITTLE
TOUR OF THE LAB, AND SAID NOW
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS
THAT WE WOULD LOOK AT IF WE HAD
THIS NEUTRON BEAM TO STUDY THE
STRUCTURES AND SO FORTH.
AND HERE'S THIS THING AND
HERE'S THAT THING, AND THEN
JUST A CASUAL REMARK HE MADE,
OH, OVER HERE'S THE CHUNK OF
THE O-RING FROM THE SATURN
VEHICLE, AND THEN HE WENT ON TO
SOMETHING ELSE.
AND AFTERWARDS, I SAID, "LOOK,
IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS TO TRY
AND EXPLAIN THE SCIENCE, BUT
I'M JUST TRYING TO TELL YOU HOW
A POLITICAL GUY WHO WAS TRYING
TO SELL THESE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE
DONE IT.
AND WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE...
THE HOOK WITH THESE GUYS WAS
THE SATURN VEHICLE, AND WHAT I
WOULD HAVE DONE WAS GET THEM
INTO A LITTLE VIEWING ROOM,
THEY HAD A PROJECTOR ROOM
THERE, AND I'D HAVE SHOWN THE
SATURN VEHICLE BLOWING UP.
THAT WOULD GET THEIR ATTENTION.
IT WAS EARLY IN THE MORNING.
AND THEN I'D SHOW A FIRESTONE
TIRE BLOWING UP AND I'D SHOW
THEM BRIDGES, YOU KNOW, THERE
ARE GREAT PICTURES OF BRIDGES
COLLAPSING, I'D SHOW BRIDGES COLLAPSING.

[Audience Laughter]

Preston continues AND I'D SHOW ONE WORD -- ONE
WORD ON THE SCREEN, STRESS,
STRESS, STRESS, STRESS KILLS,
STRESS COSTS, STRESS IS BAD.
[Laughing]
YOU KNOW, AND OKAY, HE GOT THE
STRESS ISSUE.
AND THEN SAY YOU KNOW, FROM THE
SCIENTIST'S STANDPOINT, STRESS
AND DISTRESS IS WHEN TWO
MOLECULES THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO
HOOK TOGETHER COME APART.
AND THEN I'D GET INTO THE
PHYSICS OF IT.
AND WHAT WE'RE DOING HERE IS
CREATING A MACHINE THAT WILL
STUDY WHY THE MOLECULES COME
APART WHEN THEY SHOULDN'T COME
APART.
AND THEN I'D GET INTO ALL THE
PHYSICS 101.
BUT THE HOOK WITH THOSE GUYS IS
STRESS COSTS KILLS, PRACTICAL
EXAMPLES, THEN--
DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?
LOOKING FOR THE HOOK, AND USING
THE HOOK, AND PUTTING THE HOOK
AT THE FRONT END OF THE
PRESENTATION, WHICH IS THE
RECEIVER ORIENTED WAY, NOT AT
THE BACK END.
SOME SCIENTISTS ARE VERY GOOD
AT USING EVEN CRUDER HOOKS
THAN--
I WENT DOWN WITH DR. ART
McDONALD, TO THE NEUTRINO
PROJECT IN SUDBURY, WHERE YOU
GO DOWN A MILE AND A HALF
UNDERGROUND.
AND ART HAD A GREAT WAY OF
GETTING YOUR ATTENTION.
YOU GOT IN THIS TUNNEL WHERE
YOU'RE WANDERING AROUND IN THE
COMPLETE DARK, AND HE'S THE
ONLY GUY WHO KNOWS THE WAY
AROUND, AND HE SAYS, "NOW I'D
LIKE TO DISCUSS FUNDING OF THE
NEUTRINO PROJECT.
[Laughing]

[Audience Laughter]

Preston continues BEFORE I SHOW YOU HOW TO
GET OUT, YOU KNOW?
AND THAT WAS A VERY GOOD HOOK
THAT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION RIGHT AWAY.

[Audience Laughter]

Preston continues JUST ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION OF
THIS LOOKING FOR THE HOOK...
WHEN THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT,
THE SEQUENCING OF THE HUMAN
GENOME WAS BEING COMPLETED,
THERE'S A BREAKFAST THAT'S HELD
IN OTTAWA QUITE REGULARLY,
CALLED THE EGGHEADS AND BACON
BREAKFAST.
IT'S THE EGGHEADS ARE -- THEY
BRING IN A SCIENTIST, AN
INTELLECTUAL, AND THE BACON IS
YOU KNOW WHO, THE POLITICAL
PEOPLE, AND THE IDEA IS TO
PRESENT SCIENCE, SOME DRAMATIC
IMPORTANT AREA OF SCIENCE AT
THIS BREAKFAST.
AND THEY BROUGHT IN SOME OF THE
CANADIAN PEOPLE WHO HAD WORKED
ON COMPLETING THE SEQUENCING OF
THE HUMAN GENOME, AND A MEETING
WAS ORGANISED AFTERWARDS TO YOU
KNOW, TRY TO EXPLAIN THIS MORE
TO THE PARLIAMENTARIANS, AND TO
TELL THEM, GENETIC SCIENCE, AND
THE LIFE SCIENCES, PARTICULARLY
IN THIS AREA IS GOING TO HAVE
HUGE PUBLIC POLICY
IMPLICATIONS, FOR OUR PUBLIC
HEALTH, FOR INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY LAW, FOR BIOTERRORISM,
A WHOLE BUNCH OF THESE THINGS.
AND THE PRESENTATION WENT,
AGAIN, KIND OF LIKE THE PHYSICS
101 ONE, STARTED OUT WITH
WHAT'S DNA, THE DOUBLE HELIX,
WHAT GENES AND CHROMOSOMES
WERE, WHAT THE SEQUENCING
MACHINES DID, AND THEN GOT TO
THE POINT OF SOME OF THE
APPLICATIONS, FOR EXAMPLE,
MAYBE THIS SCIENCE WILL HELP US
DEAL WITH SOME TERRIBLE
DISEASES THAT ARE GENETICALLY
RELATED OR GENETICALLY
TRANSMITTED.
AND EXAMPLES BEING GIVEN OF
DIABETES AND ALZHEIMER'S
PARTICULARLY.
AND AGAIN YOU COULD SEE THE
INTEREST KIND OF...
THE LONGER THE BIOLOGY 101 WENT
ON, THE MORE THE MEMBERS ARE
NOT SURE WHAT IT IS THIS IS
LEADING TO.
AND THIS IS SELF-EVIDENT.
AS SOON AS IT GOT ON TO THE
DISEASE PART, ALL OF A SUDDEN,
MEMBERS STARTED -- IT WAS A
CLOSED MEETING, NO MEDIA THERE.
ALL OF A SUDDEN THE MEMBERS STARTED TO
SAY, YOU KNOW, WE'VE GOT -- IN
OUR FAMILY, WE'VE HAD THIS
ALZHEIMER'S LIKE SYMPTOMS FOR
GENERATIONS, OR DIABETES, OR
WHATEVER IT IS.
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU KNOW,
THIS SCIENCE, PROPERLY
DEVELOPED, COULD BREAK THAT--
I MEAN THERE WAS JUST A NATURAL HOOK THERE.
BUT IF YOU WERE JUST IN AN
ELEVATOR WITH ONE OF THOSE MPs
OR SENATORS, YOU WOULD HAVE
BEEN BETTER TO START WITH, YOU
KNOW, THAT TERRIBLE DISEASE IN
YOUR FAMILY...
YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOME SCIENCE
BREAKTHROUGHS HERE THAT MAY
JUST ACTUALLY BE ABLE CHOP THAT
CHAIN, AND YOU'VE INSTANTLY GOT
THEIR ATTENTION.
AND THEN, THEY'LL LISTEN FOR
HOURS TO THE BIOLOGY 101, BUT
IT'S FINDING THAT HOOK AND
PUTTING IT UP FRONT.
A SECOND STRATEGY BESIDES
FINDING THE HOOK, AND MAYBE
THIS IS -- IT'S SORT OF
SIMILAR.
I CALL IT RIDING THE WAVE.
SOMETIMES THE TIMING OF WHEN
YOU COMMUNICATE SOMETHING,
ESPECIALLY SCIENTISTS, IS ALL
IMPORTANT.
LIKE, IN POLITICS, TIMING IS
EVERYTHING.
THERE'S SOME, UNDER CERTAIN
CONDITIONS, A MESSAGE YOU'VE
GOT WILL RESONATE TERRIFICALLY.
OTHER TIMES, IT'S THE WRONG
TIME, PEOPLE WON'T LISTEN.
BUT-- AND SO WHEN COMMUNICATING
SCIENCE, I SORT OF WATCH FOR
THE WAVE.
AND THERE'S NOBODY HERE HARDLY
OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER, BUT IN
THE WEEKS AFTER THE RUSSIANS
LAUNCHED THE SPUTNIK SATELLITE,
YOU HAD AN INTEREST IN NORTH
AMERICA AND IN EUROPE FOR
DISCUSSING ASTROPHYSICS AND OUR
COMMITMENT TO ENGINEERING AND
SPACE RESEARCH AND THAT, THAT
WAS JUST UNBELIEVABLE.
EVERYBODY WAS INTERESTED IN
THAT, AND WITH THE
CONSCIOUSNESS THAT MAYBE WE
WERE BEHIND.
IN THE WEEKS AFTER THE SARS
PROGRAM, THE CHANCES TO TALK
ABOUT EPIDEMIOLOGY IS MUCH
HIGHER THAN IT WAS THE WEEKS
BEFORE.
IN THE DAYS JUST AFTER THE
ANTHRAX SCARE IN CONNECTION
WITH 9-11, YOU HAD A CHANCE TO
TALK ABOUT BIOTERRORISM AND HOW
YOU GET AT THAT AND TRY TO
MITIGATE AGAINST THAT FROM A
SCIENTIFIC OR POLITICAL
STANDPOINT, THAT YOU DIDN'T
HAVE BEFORE 9-11.
IN THE -- JUST IN THIS JANUARY,
THE GEOPHYSICS OF TSUNAMIS, THE
INTEREST WORLDWIDE IN THAT
SUBJECT, WAS JUST INFINITELY
HIGHER THAN IT WAS TWO DAYS
BEFORE THAT TERRIBLE DISASTER.
SO RIDING THE WAVE IS ANOTHER WAY--
IF SOMETHING HAPPENS THAT HAS A
SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION, OR IF
IT RAISES AN ISSUE, BEING ABLE
TO COME WITH YOUR MESSAGE THEN
IT REQUIRES SCIENCE
COMMUNICATORS THEN TO BE
FLEXIBLE.
LIKE, YOU'VE WORKED OUT YOUR
WHOLE ITINERARY AND WHAT YOU'RE
GOING TO SAY EVERY WEEK FOR THE
NEXT YEAR, BUT IF A WAVE COMES
ALONG, YOU'D BE A LOT SMARTER
TO SCRAP IT AND GET ON THE
WAVE, BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT AN
AUDIENCE.
SO TWO SIMPLE STRATEGIES
FINDING THE HOOKS AND RIDING
THE WAVE MAY HELP.
NOW THE LAST THING I'LL GET
ONTO, AND AGAIN, THIS ISN'T
PROFOUND, BUT I THINK IT'S
WORTH SAYING THIS.
SOME OF US -- I THINK ALL OF US
REALISE, IF WE DEAL WITH
CHILDREN, AND WE HAVE FIVE
CHILDREN OF OUR OWN, BUT
THEY'RE IN THEIR 20s AND 30s.
BUT WE HAVE EIGHT GRANDCHILDREN
ALL UNDER 7 YEARS OF AGE.
THE POWER OF THE STORY JUST THE
POWER OF THE STORY.
IN THE FIELD OF RELIGION, IN
PARTICULAR, SAY CHRISTENDOM,
THERE HAVE BEEN HUNDREDS OF
THOUSANDS OF BOOKS WRITTEN ON
THEOLOGY AND ARGUMENTS FOR AND
AGAINST FAITH BASED
PROPOSITIONS.
BUT THE COMMUNICATION DEVICE
THAT HAS PRESERVED AND CARRIED
THE ESSENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN
FAITH IS WHAT?
IT'S SIMPLE STORIES AND
PARABLES TOLD BY A CARPENTER IN
NAZARETH, AND THESE HAVE
SURVIVED 2,000 YEARS.
THE POWER OF THE STORY AS A
COMMUNICATION DEVICE, AND AS A
PRESERVATIVE OF WHATEVER IT IS
YOU'RE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE.
I MENTIONED, WE HAVE THESE
EIGHT GRANDCHILDREN, AND I LIKE
HISTORY, AND I LIKE
COMMUNICATING HISTORY.
BUT HOW DO YOU, YOU KNOW, THESE
KIDS WILL NOT SIT DOWN FOR 30
SECONDS TO LISTEN TO A LECTURE
ON HISTORY.
BUT WHAT DO WE DO?
WE TELL THEM STORIES.
OUR ONE LITTLE GRANDDAUGHTER,
WE'VE GOT SIX GRANDSONS AND TWO
GRANDDAUGHTERS, SO WE TEND TO
FAVOUR THE DAUGHTERS JUST TO
KEEP THE BALANCE.

[Audience Laughter]

Preston continues BUT ONE OF THEM IS INTERESTED IN HORSES.
SO I TELL THEM THE STORY OF
ALEXANDER THE GREAT, BUT
FOCUSSING AROUND LIKE,
ALEXANDER'S HORSE.
THE HORSE IS THE BIG THING, AND
I CARRY A LOT OF FREIGHT FROM
THE HELLENIC EXPANSION TO THE
PERSIAN EMPIRE, BUT IT'S ALL
THROUGH THE EYES OF THIS HORSE,
AND SHE'LL LISTEN TO STORIES,
AS LONG AS IT'S TIED TO THAT
HORSE, SHE'LL LISTEN FOR A LONG TIME.
THE STORIES ABOUT COLUMBUS AND DISCOVERY
BUT YOU CAN ELABORATE ON
DISCOVERY, BUT COLUMBUS IS THE HOOK.
WOLFE AND MONTCALM, YOU GET
INTO THE CANADIAN DUALITY.
ALEXANDER AND MACKENZIE.
THEN WE GET TO WESTERN CANADA AND WE'RE
DRIVING THROUGH SASKATCHEWAN
AND I TELL THEM STORIES ABOUT
LUIS RIEL, BUT THE STORY, THE STORY.
AND YOU CAN CARRY A LOT OF
FREIGHT ON THE STORY.
YOU'RE STILL CONVEYING FACTS
AND INFORMATION, BUT USING THE
STORY AS THE MECHANISM.
AND AS YOU ALL KNOW, SCIENCE IS
FULL OF STORIES WITH THAT SAME
CAPACITY TO CAPTURE THE
INTEREST AND THE ATTENTION OF
THE YOUNGER PEOPLE.
BANTING AND BEST'S STORY.
YOU CAN CARRY A LOT OF FREIGHT
ON THAT STORY THAT'S RELEVANT
TO TODAY.
THAT BOOK ON THE DOUBLE HELIX
IS AS MUCH A DETECTIVE STORY AS
ANYTHING OF TOM CLANCY'S.
SO IN TALKING SCIENCE, MY
CONCLUSION WOULD BE, LET'S
APPLY THE SCIENCE OF
COMMUNICATION TO THE
COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE.
LET'S PRACTISE THE PRINCIPLE OF
RECEIVER ORIENTED COMMUNICATION
WHERE IT'S RELEVANT, LET'S FIND
THE HOOKS AND RIDE THE WAVES,
AND IN DOING ALL OF THIS, LET'S
NOT LOSE THE MAGIC AND THE
POWER OF THE STORY OF SCIENCE,
WHICH IS PERHAPS ONE OF THE
MOST POWERFUL TOOLS OF ALL.

[Applause]

Watch: David Lindberg on The Floretine Heretic