Randy then discusses the critical need to develop simple narratives to communicate complex subjects (such as coral reef conservation!). The coral reef community has struggled to communicate in a cohesive manner the current state of this diminishing ecosystem. Doug and Randy also discuss the diverse and contradictory nature of the coral reef community: scientists, conservationists, and the tourism industry, each of which has its own agenda when communicating the state of coral reefs. Randy discusses the recent presidential campaign and how Donald Trump intuitively understood simple narratives with his “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Finally, we discuss solutions such as getting local groups to take ownership of simplifying the message of adaptation and conservation. It is a provocative and thought provoking episode, but ultimately a hopeful one, where both Randy and Doug challenge the science and conservation communities to learn to embrace simple narratives to get the public more aware of these important issues.
Other topics covered:
- Randy discusses his storytelling technique, “ABT” (and, but, therefore) and how it can be used to simplify coral reef conservation narratives.
- We talk about story circles, a workshop that randy runs with different agencies and groups to practice the ABT story narrative structure.
- Randy describes how Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a perfect example of the ABT structure.
- We go through the thought exercise: what if Donald Trump tried to save coral reefs, how would he approach it?
- Randy discusses how the doomsday clock was a good example of how the science community distilled the complex threat of nuclear disaster into a simple message.
- How does one adapt to climate change in a ‘post factual world’? We ponder this dilemma.
- The “truth” is not prevailing in scientific discourse, but narrative dynamics are, e.g., “Make America great again.”
- We discuss the plight of the Vaquita dolphin and how it represents a failure of the conservation community to rally around a message that would have saved it.
- Scientists need to understand that Hollywood, movies and television, are meant to entertain. Structure your advocacy message accordingly. Don’t bore people.
- With the new administration, Randy observes we have likely entered a new era of anti-science. The science community needs to be prepared.
Mentioned in This Episode: