May 21, 2024

Science Busters: Humor serves as a door to science

WZ | Matthias Ziegler

Does it also have to do with the emotionality of communication? See AfD, anti-vaxxers,… Does science convey little emotion?

Florian Freestetter

Science itself, by definition, has no feeling to convey. This is precisely why the scientific method is what it is: to understand reality as best as possible without being distracted by the subjectivity that is inevitably inherent in all human activity. So science by feeling tends to be bad science. However, where it is not possible without emotions, science is communicated. Here you have to deal with the people you want to deliver knowledge to, and people are emotional beings. Communicating science without emotions cannot succeed, and this is precisely the problem when scientists are supposed to take on the task of communicating science without being trained in it. What you learn to do with science is the same thing that prevents you from communicating it successfully.

Martin Pontigham

I also think these are excuses that people would be more rational if they were met with more sensitive communication. No one in our country or in other free democracies is forced to vote for right-wing or far-right parties. Or believe or spread nonsense about vaccinations. Some people feel unsafe or do not have an environment where scientific information is easily accessible. It's something different and really good if you find other ways to communicate. But many people who like fascist parties find their xenophobia, brutality and tendency toward domination attractive. This is not happening to them, and it cannot be significantly changed by more sensitivity in declaring the facts.

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WZ | Matthias Ziegler

What mistakes do schools make when it comes to imparting knowledge? Or is everything great anyway and the Pisa test is wrong?

Florian Freestetter

One can certainly expect more from the schools. But you shouldn't expect too much. Teachers must adhere to the curriculum; It must convey a certain amount of knowledge at a certain time. You can't compare this to what science abusers do. We have the freedom to choose the knowledge that best suits the show and is best for an evening of entertainment. It would be unfair to accuse schools of not being as entertaining as an evening with Science Busters. But what you can accuse the education system of is that teachers do not have the status they should have. Anyone who undertakes the extremely important task of training young people must, on the one hand, meet the highest quality standards, but on the other hand, must also have a well-paid job with reasonable working conditions. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

WZ | Matthias Ziegler

As a science buster, you mix science with cynicism. Can the added value of this concept be expressed in words?

Florian Freestetter

Science seems scary to a lot of people. People think they are not smart enough to do science. Or they think science is boring, irrelevant to their lives, etc. This is all wrong, but these prejudices must be overcome first. If you present science as part of a cabaret evening, this is a good option, because hardly anyone will think: “No, I will not go to the cabaret, it might be too funny for me.” And then when the evening is over, they have people busy with science, having fun and not even noticing that science communication has just happened.

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Martin Pontigham

What we really like to do and have been doing for many years is to change perspective. A paradoxical intervention, if you want to put it too high. And also because then you can make simpler and funnier jokes. One of the shows was called “The Perfect Christmas Tree Fire” or our recent show “Global Warming Party”. We do a good job with that. Anyone sitting in the theater laughing, listening to the science on our podcast, or immersed in one of our books is well entertained and can't waste their time with lateral thinkers, standing up for a climate deniers' rally, or wasting their vote on parties. They want to “protect the climate with common sense” or worse. At best, you will not only have a good time, but you will also learn something and see first-class fashion. You could really spend your life a lot worse.

Florian Freestetter

In my experience, there are only two types of people: those who care about science. And who don't know yet that they are interested in science. The first group makes sure they get what they want anyway. Science club is a great way to reach the second group.