The gap between the scientific community and the public is widening. Whether considering climate change or mental health, policymakers and gatekeepers of the legal system routinely mischaracterize scientific consensus, with potentially devastating consequences for the moral health of our society and our collective future. It’s never been more crucial to examine how public understanding of science can be transformed – through better storytelling, deeper dialogue among disciplines, and the simple art of persuasion – and also how science can be better informed (and guided) by the ongoing needs of society.
On Friday, January 23, 2015 at the Norton’s Woods Conference Center of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, CLBB presented “Translation 2.0: A Forum on Transforming Public Understanding of Science.” Leading thinkers from science, the law, and journalism discussed the art of persuasion (F. Lee Bailey), the successful OpEd (Nancy Gertner), writing a sophisticated science story (Carey Goldberg), new models for disrupting public opinion (Jeff Howe), and why science needs storytelling (Jordan Smoller). Remarks from each speaker were followed by a lively discussion among all attendees around how both scientists and journalists – as well as the public at large – can do more to speak each other’s languages and address key consensus issues.
F. Lee Bailey, JD, is a former criminal defense attorney most widely known for his successful defenses of Sam Sheppard (1966) and O. J. Simpson (1994). He was legal host of Good Morning America and a high-profile public figure throughout his 40-year law career in Massachusetts and Florida. He is a lifetime member of the American Polygraph Association and now works as a consultant in Maine. Bailey’s books include The Defense Never Rests, For the Defense, and Excellence in Cross-Examination.
Nancy Gertner, MA, JD, is a former U.S. federal judge who stepped down to teach at Harvard Law School. Named one of “The Most Influential Lawyers of the Past 25 Years” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Gertner has written and spoken throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. She has published widely on sentencing, discrimination, and forensic evidence; women’s rights; and the jury system. Her autobiography, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate, was published in 2011.
Carey Goldberg is the co-host of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog. She has been the Boston bureau chief of The New York Times, a staff Moscow correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, and a health/science reporter for The Boston Globe. She was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and is co-author of the triple memoir Three Wishes: A True Story Of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak and Astonishing Luck On Our Way To Love and Motherhood. She is currently developing a science podcast at WBUR.
Jeff Howe is Assistant Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University, where he runs Media Innovation, an interdisciplinary graduate program in digital storytelling. Howe is a longtime contributing editor at Wired magazine. In a 2006 Wired article he coined the term “crowdsourcing” and later wrote the book, Crowdsourcing: How the Power of Crowds is Driving the Future of Business. He is a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, NewYorker.com, and many other publications. He lives in Cambridge and is currently co-authoring a book with Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab.
Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, is a CLBB faculty member and Director of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Associate Chief for Research in Psychiatry, and Director of Psychiatric Genetics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. Additionally, Smoller is the author of the popular science book The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior.
The event was held January 23 from 1 to 5pm at the Norton’s Woods Conference Center of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 136 Irving Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.