Are Scientists or Moviemakers the Bigger Dodos?

Scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson says that academics must be more like Hollywood in how they share their love for science

Marine biology professor-turned-Hollywood filmmaker Randy Olson contends that people missed the message in his first two films because film is not their language. (Emmett Schmotkin)

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I tell them that they’re being dumb. They don’t understand the difference between “dumbing down” and concision. “Dumbing down” is just chopping down information and throwing it away to lighten the load. Concision is taking the same information and taking a lot of time and energy to rearrange it until you finally get it in a format that is more easily digested and understood than what you had in the beginning. The nice thing now is that I’ve been through three years of two movies, Flocks of Dodos and Sizzle, in which lots of people missed the message and got all wound up because it was film and that’s not their language. Now, it’s like I’ve aroused a lot of interest through the two movies. Now I’m fulfilling the message with the book.

Is your book just for scientists?

Oh no. We have a little video on our website, and I open it by saying that this is a book that could be just as well for lawyers or doctors or accountants, anybody that deals with trying to communicate a lot of information to the broader audience. I do think it’s advantageous to anybody involved in the broad communication of information.


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