Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story

By Randy Olson

 Ask a scientist approximately Hollywood, and you’ll most likely get eye rolls. yet ask anyone in Hollywood approximately technological know-how, and they’ll see buck symptoms: moviemakers understand that technological know-how will be the resource of significant tales, with all of the drama and motion that blockbusters require.
 
That’s an important mistake, says Randy Olson: Hollywood has much to coach scientists approximately tips on how to inform a story—and, finally, find out how to do technology larger. With Houston, we've a Narrative, he lays out a stunningly easy procedure for turning the boring into the dramatic. Drawing on his distinct historical past, which observed him go away his task as a operating scientist to release a profession as a filmmaker, Olson first diagnoses the matter: whilst scientists let us know approximately their paintings, they pile one second and one element atop one other second and one other detail—a stultifying procession of “and, and, and.” What we want as a substitute is an figuring out of the elemental components of tale, the narrative buildings that our brains are all yet hardwired to seem for—which Olson boils down, brilliantly, to “And, yet, Therefore,” or ABT. At a stroke, the ABT method introduces momentum (“And”), clash (“But”), and backbone (“Therefore”)—the primary development blocks of tale. As Olson has proven via top numerous workshops around the globe, whilst scientists’ eyes are opened to ABT, the influence is astonishing: without notice, they’re not only conversing approximately their work—they’re telling stories approximately it. And audiences are captivated.
 
Written with an unusual verve and exuberance, and outfitted on rules which are appropriate to fields some distance past technological know-how, Houston, now we have a Narrative has the ability to rework the best way technology is known and favored, and finally how it’s done.

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That's the “yes, and . . . ” dynamic of improv at paintings, even if none of them had passed through improv education. At one aspect I felt as though I have been really in an improv category. One common workout for improv education is “next choice,” within which the player says whatever like, “So i purchased a brand new car . . . ,” and the teacher shouts, “Next selection! ” and the actor deals up a brand new selection (usually escalating upward), asserting, “So i purchased a brand new truck . . . ” “Next selection! ” “So i purchased a brand new tank . . . ” a superb improv actor can spew out subsequent offerings immediately, with no hesitation. a foul one pauses, thinks, and will get locked up. As I requested for brand new content material, rather than locking up or negating, they flipped into notion mode and have been in a position to supply up one advice after one other. In each side they embodied the features of improv. It’s no longer a accident. Improv fosters creativity; inventors are hugely artistic. Creativity calls for that you just “get from your head”—that you close down the negating equipment that comes from the cerebral finish of the spectrum. those are those who have lived their lives pushed by means of their creativity—looking at difficulties and bobbing up with artistic, nonliteral solutions—making intuitive leaps and exploring numerous rules instead of shutting issues down and being myopic. My operating with them replaced my belief and optimism whilst i believe approximately scientists in most cases. I had concept it would be attainable to be a very good scientist and be that artistic, yet I’d had my doubts. not. the opposite asset of an ideal scientist is the middle message of this book—narrative instinct. I don’t have the time and assets to ballot all of the contemporary Nobel Laureates, yet I’m guessing you are going to see powerful narrative instinct between them similar to i've got famous for Randy Schekman and James Watson. It’s now not a twist of fate. the best scientists will be able to greater than simply speaking with nice narrative constitution. they might even have this sort of robust figuring out of the narrative facet of the medical approach that they'd influence the present difficulties of fake positives and underpublished null experiences. most of these qualities are attainable in one scientist and are found in the various maximum ones this day. they simply take additional attempt to domesticate, that is why they should learn and inspired from the very begin of a technological know-how occupation. Excellence is feasible, yet simply with right education, and the suitable total viewpoint. Which brings us again to the large photograph. This View of existence Stephen Jay Gould was once the best scientist I ever met. For me, he was once the embodiment of the appropriate scientist—at least within the early years of his occupation, the past due Seventies, which was once whilst i used to be lucky adequate to spend time round him. He was once steeped in either the cerebral (a member of the nationwide Academy of Sciences through age forty eight) and the visceral (full of humor, deeply impassioned). yet his expert existence ended up being a tragic and critical tale that underscores all i've got offered during this ebook as he finally impaled himself on his personal sword.

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