Books SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

The storytelling scientist

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 391
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2179

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Summary

In Randy Olson's new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative, he boldly states that the single biggest problem facing science today is "narrative deficiency." "Science is a narrative process," he argues, "…therefore science needs story." He outlines how bad storytelling and exaggerated claims negatively affect the scientific enterprise and describes the difficulty that scientists often experience as they struggle to effectively communicate their data. Reviewer Rafael Luna outlines several strategies for crafting better scientific stories, but cautions readers to approach the process with caution and precision. "Remember," he advises, "that a narrative is only as good as the data on which it is based."