Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What College Professors Can Learn From Alan Alda. From

"We've been frustrated
with Alda for a while, too,"
said a spokesperson.
Stony Brook University has established an entire center for communicating science, named for the actor and director Alan Alda, who inspired it out of frustration with the scientists he met as host for 13 years of the public-television series Scientific American Frontiers.

“I must have interviewed about 700 scientists,” says Alda. “I just listened and tried to understand what they were saying. But they were in lecture mode most of the time.”



  1. Hey, once I did learn something important from Alan Alda. Once when I was an undergraduate, my roommate and I were watching MASH. During a scene showing “the Swamp,” a shot of their still caused my roommate, a chemistry major, to say, “Why can’t we do that?”

    The next day we showed up at the chemistry stockroom. They knew we were up to no good because we were grinning like maniacs, but they did sell us the glassware, perhaps because we weren’t asking for the parts for a water pipe (a two-hole stopper is the giveaway there).

    Back in our dorm room, we made a substance we called “gin.” It tasted like something you’d dress wounds with. My former roommate is now a psychiatrist.

  2. "Meanwhile, she says, “There’s a growing realization that virtually all university research in this country is publicly supported. And academics owe it to the public to explain what it is they’re doing, and why it’s important to do.”"

    Granted. But wouldn't it be nice if we could have that conversation without our audience starting from the assumption that we're a bunch of lazy slackers, who are scamming the system for grant money, so we can work three hours a week and spend the rest of our time doing pointless egghead stuff.


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