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Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style

Popular Science

By: Randy Olson

206 pages, Photos, tabs, figs

Island Press

Paperback | Nov 2009 | #178534 | ISBN-13: 9781597265638
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £12.99 $16/€15 approx

About this book

After twenty years as a marine biologist, a Ph.D. from Harvard, a tenured professorship at the University of New Hampshire, and more than twenty published research papers, why is Dr. Randy Olson telling readers, "Don't Be Such a Scientist" ? The hard-earned advice comes from a fifteen-year career transition to filmmaking, culminating in the acclaimed documentaries Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.

In his first book, Olson makes clear what those glued to their microscopes and climate models may not recognize: the general public doesn't speak science. For better or worse, most of us rely not on intellect, but on what Olson terms the organs of mass communication: the heart, the gut, and even "the lower organs." Why else do some still question the existence of global warming or evolution when the evidence is irrefutable?

Drawing on his own hilarious-and at times humiliating- evolution from science professor to Hollywood filmmaker, Olson shares the secrets of talking substance in an age of style. The key, he argues, is to stay true to the facts while tapping into something more primordial, more irrational, and ultimately more human.

In a book enlivened by profane acting teachers and earnest scientists, serious insights and poignant stories, Olson walks the walk. You'll laugh, you may cry, and you'll certainly learn how to communicate critical scientific and environmental issues using your heart as well as your head.

"Don't Be Such a Scientist is a stinging critique, yet it's also a funny, heart-felt account of one scientist's efforts to make non-scientists care about the natural world."
– Carl Zimmer author of Microcosm and the award-winning science blog The Loom


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Biography

Randy Olson earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University and achieved tenure at the University of New Hampshire before resigning and moving to Hollywood, obtaining an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California School of Cinema, and embarking on a second career as a filmmaker. Since film school he has written and directed the critically acclaimed films Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus (Tribeca, '06, Showtime) and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (Outfest, '08), and co-founded The Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project, a partnership between scientists and Hollywood to communicate the crisis facing our oceans.

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