Book Reviews

Book review: Don’t Be Such a Scientist.

The majority of the population knows, or at least feels that scientists communicate poorly. University students know it best.

When they do make a presentation, they talk jargon, some prefer to show slides or use power point mode, and assume (which they should never do) that the audience knows all the details of the subject matter.

In short, scantiest prefer to work in their laboratories, think a lot, and maybe write a paper in an attempt to get published in a reputable scientific magazine.

The author who has a Ph.d in marine biology (I know this well since he mentions this several times, to ensure the reader never forgets it) was a tenured professor and quit to become a movie producer. He took courses in Hollywood to understand how the most important movie production centre in the world functions and conducts business.

R. Olson proposes in this flawlessly flowing prose how scientists can enliven their talks to enlighten the audience.

He has a lot of examples of how poorly some respected member of the scientific community deliver poorly conceived and planned dull speeches.

In one case, a popular speaker did dwell on an arcane slide for more than 10 minutes never stating what he would be talking about, nor did he outline how he wanted to approach the subject, and never bothered to summarize his presentation.

Instead, after his disorganized presentation, he mentioned that if people in the audience were interested, they could read his speech on his website.

He then shut his laptop and exited the stage to fly yet to another city.

This type of presentation occurs frequently. The speaker, often hyped up before the presentation, get ups, talks a little about his/her credentials and delivers a jargon-studded, mostly poorly organized speech and leaves.

The author proposes several ways to remedy such lamentable situations that cost a lot of effort, time, and funds to organize, how to enliven dull subject matters, and to select what would be memorable for the audience.

He knows what he is writing about. He was a tenured professor, and taught for several years.

He also admits how he assumed what his students might like, and discovered that they did not like his presentation.

It is a shame, the author says, that highly intelligent researchers work on a subject tirelessly present their work so thoughtlessly.

This is a book every professor anywhere should read and think about it, and discuss with his/her fellow professors to determine how to change their teaching methods and/or presentations to the public at large and in the classroom.

Highly recommended!

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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