Science, Communication and Uncertainty Evening
Thursday, May 4th, 2017
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Award winning science correspondent and TV journalist Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday® heard weekly on PRI, Public Radio International, and online.
Most people do not understand the process of science or what scientists do. They expect science to provide them with black and white solutions when in fact science many times comes up with appear to be ambiguous answers: uncertainty. But this is well-informed uncertainty, often accurate within likely ranges. This disconnect leads to many false assumptions about what to expect from science and scientists. And it makes it difficult for the media to communicate that uncertainty to a public that expects science to "know everything." On top of that challenge, religious and political factors also influence the public's understanding of science. In his presentation, Ira Flatow will explore these challenges and efforts to explain the uncertainty that scientists welcome but the public finds bewildering.
The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session from the audience.
Ira Flatow Bio
Award winning science correspondent and TV journalist Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday®, heard weekly on PRI, Public Radio International, and online. He anchors the show each Friday, bringing radio and Internet listeners worldwide a lively, informative discussion on science, technology, health, space and the environment. Ira is also founder and president of Science Friday Initiative, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit company dedicated to creating radio, TV and Internet projects that make science “user friendly.” Flatow's interest in things scientific began in boyhood — he almost burned down his mother's bathroom trying to recreate a biology class experiment. “I was the proverbial kid who spent hours in the basement experimenting with electronic gizmos, and then entering them in high school science fairs,” Flatow says.
Mixing his passion for science with a tendency toward being a bit of a ham, Flatow describes his work as the challenge “to make science and technology a topic for discussion around the dinner table.” He has shared that enthusiasm with public radio listeners for more than 35 years. As a reporter and then News Director at WBFO-FM/Buffalo, New York, Flatow began reporting at the station while studying for his engineering degree at State University of New York in Buffalo. As NPR's science correspondent from 1971 to 1986, Flatow found himself reporting from the Kennedy Space Center, Three Mile Island, Antarctica and the South Pole. In one memorable NPR report, Flatow took former All Things Considered host Susan Stamberg into a closet to crunch Wint-O-Green Lifesavers, proving they spark in the dark. His most recent book is entitled Present at the Future: From Evolution to Nanotechnology, Candid and Controversial Conversations on Science and Nature (HarperCollins).
On television, Flatow has discussed the latest cutting edge science stories on a variety of programs. He also hosted the four-part PBS series Big Ideas produced by WNET in New York. His numerous TV credits include six years as host and writer for the Emmy-award-winning Newton's Apple on PBS, science reporter for CBS This Morning, and cable's CNBC. He wrote, produced and hosted Transistorized!, an hour-long documentary about the history of the transistor, which aired on PBS. He has talked science on many TV talk shows including Merv Griffin, Today, Charlie Rose, and Oprah. He has co-starred twice on the CBS hit series The Big Bang Theory.
On the Internet, Flatow has hosted numerous science related Web Casts for Discovery Online, The Great Planet Debate and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. His Podcasts are among the most listened to on the Internet, frequently in the top-ten of all downloads on the iTunes web site. His SciFri Twitter audience numbers more than 440,000, the biggest in all of Public Radio talk/shows. In print, Ira has authored articles for various magazines ranging from Woman's Day to ESPN Magazine to American Lawyer. His commentary has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, and Current newspapers.
Public speaking and moderating discussions are a regular part of his schedule. He has spoken at Rockefeller University, the World Economic Forum, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, Calvin Academy, Cal Tech, MIT, Harvard, University of Wisconsin, OSHU, National Inventor’s Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Author Forum. In 2004, Ira was resident scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. His recent honors include: the Isaac Asimov Award (2012,) the Nierenberg Prize (2010), Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, membership (2008), National Science Teachers Association Faraday Science Communicator Award (2007), the National Science Board Public Service Award (2005), World Economic Forum Media Fellowship (2005), AAAS Journalism award (2000), Brady Washburn Award (2000), and the Carl Sagan Award (1999).
Ira is member of the National Association of Science Writers, AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild. His hobbies include tennis, golf, gardening (especially orchids), and electronic gadgets. He loves the theater. A native of New York, Flatow now lives in Connecticut.
The interdisciplinary, cross-campus event is part of a series on Sustainable Science Communication, by the Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability, and the Department of Communication’s biannual Rupe Conference series. It is co-sponsored by the Bren School for Environmental Science & Management's Strategic Communication & Environmental Media focus, and the Associated Students Program Board, and is assisted by Arts & Lectures.