Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences

The mass media is especially relevant when considering the communication of science because it represents the source from which nonexpert audiences get most of its science information

Michael F. Dahlstrom

2014

Scholarcy highlights

  • Storytelling often has negative connotations within science, narrative formats of communication should not be disregarded when communicating science to nonexpert audiences
  • Viewed as baseless or even manipulative, stories are often denigrated with statements such as, “the plural of anecdote is not data.”. Such a perspective is valuable within the context of scientific data collection to underscore the important difference between making informed generalizations from systematically sampled populations versus overgeneralizations from small and often biased samples
  • The sources from which nonexperts receive most of their science information are already biased toward narrative formats of communication
  • The article begins with a review of narrative literature, as well as the mass media context through which most nonexpert audiences get their information about science
  • The mass media is especially relevant when considering the communication of science because it represents the source from which nonexpert audiences get most of its science information
  • It may be that nonexperts so align their expectation of how scientists should communicate with the logical-scientific processing pathway, that an otherwise appropriate narrative may be perceived as violating their normative expectations of science communication

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