Our guest speaker on the challenges of communicating our science is Michael Mills (aka Professor Flint — Australia’s singing palaeontologist and science communicator), an award wining writer, producer, and performer.

“It’s the story, stoopid: Rising to the challenge of science communication in an age of fake news.”

Once upon a time, there was a species, out on the African plains, well adapted to its environment. It was a species adapted to responding, through fight or flight, to making quick decisions so as not to be eaten, keep the group safe from outsider, and to allow the sharing of knowledge. These adaptations served them well. They evolved shortcuts in thinking that allowed them to decide what was important to remember. They found meaning where there was none. They saw patterns in the chaos. Fast forward a couple of hundred thousand years, and that same species is living in a greatly changed world, but is still made of the same stuff, and with all the same adaptations, having to make sense of a world overloaded with information! So, how have we responded? By taking the same cognitive short cuts we always took… shortcuts that were perfect adaptations for life on those ancient plains.

We are living in a world in which we are poorly adapted to manage the amount of information, and to be able to discern truths from untruths. We are living at a time where many of the adaptations that have served us well for millennia, are making it impossible, at times, to make sense of an ocean of information in which we can barely keep our heads above water. But there is a way to break though the noise. What defines us as a species more than anything, is that we are storytellers. We are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimp; we are certainly not Homo Sapiens, (wise man). In a thought-proving presentation, Michael Mills will challenge us to the core and demand that we rethink how we communicate science to the public. In so doing, we will be asked to return to understanding and utilising the only thing that has really ever worked: story.


Michael will also be hosting a workshop on Thursday 31 October 9am-12:30pm (morning tea provided).
See the flyer below for more information. Spaces are limited, so register now.

Download as a pdf (1MB).

Read more about Michael here.