SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Recently one professor advised me to add some jokes to my articles related to science communication because, according to him, most people who read them are commoners and they will be interested in 'more entertainment'. 
Most of the scientists I work with don't agree to 'dumb down' their work. "Bring your readers to our level, don't degrade our science to the entertainment levels of the public" is what they say.
 They give the example of Einstein's explanation of his relativity theory: When you sit with a pretty girl for two hours you think it's only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it's two hours. That's relativity.

It is said that when Einstein first announced his theory, he was bombarded to such an extent by questions as to just what relativity is, that he hired a girl to answer the people flocking to his domicile and he instructed her, when all other efforts to elucidate the theory failed, to define relativity to wit:

“If you sit on a pretty girl’s lap for an hour, it seems like a minute. If you sit on a hot stove for a minute, it seems like an hour.”(1)

Most scientists say, "Where is science in this explanation? You shouldn't degrade science to such an extent that it loses its own identity and takes the form of entertainment". 

Let us consider this: A director is directing a funeral scene of a movie. To take the mental burden away from people (because of 'heaviness of the scene'), if he makes someone tell a joke and makes everybody laugh at the graveyard,  will that be appropriate for the scene?

Likewise if we tell jokes, and make people laugh all the time, that becomes an entertainment  arena, not a scientific zone.

Yes, we can make things a little bit lighter and easier but there is a limit to how far we can go in entertainment in science. 

Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight.

We can only add some bits of this here and there to the extent possible in science. But if people want only entertainment, they can go to other channels, not science. Science is knowledge oriented and will have some sort of complex brain work to read, understand, learn and do. People should try to understand that. If they go to a science class and expect  'just entertainment', that is unreasonable. 

Do they expect science while watching just entertainment programmes on TV?  

Yes, we can tell interesting stories (2), add artwork related to the subject (3), show science in the dance form (4),  create pictures to add visual information, add memes, graphs and tables to make things comfortable, and play with words in the form of poetry (5). We will definitely  try to put people at ease with these interesting ideas. 

However, the readers/audience  shouldn't expect 'too much'  from scientists and science communicators. They should be prepared for some 'brain heating' too! 

I think adding more than 30% of entertainment to science is definitely dumbing it down and depleting science of its importance. Most Scientists are not comfortable with the idea.

Moreover, people will remember entertainment more and forget science if science communication crosses this limits. 

Footnotes:

1. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/24/hot-stove/#:~:text=That's%20relativity.%E2%80%9D,-In%20September%201929&text=One%20explanation%20of%20Einstein's%20relativity,That's%20relativity.

2. https://academic.oup.com/icb/article/58/6/1304/5184269

3. http://www.kkartfromscience.com/fromscience.html

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_Your_Ph.D.

5. https://kkartlab.in/group/theartofwritingpoems/forum

 

 

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