If The Story is Good Enough They Will ALL Listen

One of the main reasons I got into podcasting was because I was interested in the stories behind mathematics. I have approached this in a few different ways with the podcasts. With Combinations and Permutations we cover a specific topic and in between the tangential conversational strands and crazy non sequiturs I try to make sure that the story of the topic, be it a mathematician, a problem, or a discipline, comes out. With Strongly Connected Components I am more than anything else there to find out the story of the person I am interviewing , the story of why they do and the story of what they do. The story has been the most important way of making humans understand the world around them for the longest time and I think it may be the way to once again make people engage with the sciences and mathematics, if we can make our story interesting enough people will pay attention again and, not only that, they will want to understand. I am not the only person who thinks this thankfully; Randy Olson, in The Scientist, recently wrote an article entitled Tell Me A Story of Science discussing this very topic. From the article:

But maybe you’ll say, “Storytelling is just for fiction.” Sorry, but that’s not true. This is a shortcoming of today’s science education—the failure to make scientists realize they are storytellers, every bit as much as novelists. They just don’t like to admit it, or really even think about it. They tend to think stories mean Star Wars and Harry Potter. The truth is, stories are as equally important in nonfiction as fiction. They are the way we understand our world.

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