Get Burnt or Get Understood – Journal 5
This week we had a very interesting role-play game between a group of two people. One person took the role of a modern man travelling back through time to 1600, the other guy was a peaceful peasant working diligently on the farm. The modern man should try their best to explain one high-tech device, e.g. smartphone or potable x-ray machine, to the farmer without be deemed as a witch. The collision of time, culture, behavior, and knowledge level certainly made this mission to be quite difficult.
(Click on the figure to find the orginial source)
I will pass the details during the role play, but this game is really enlightening for our daily communication. We scientists and engineers, as well-educated people, usually think ahead of ordinary people and come out with lots of “crazy” ideas and inventions. These novel findings will be very difficult to understand for common people, which may cause concerns to their well-beings, for instance GMO products. Hence, we need to efficiently convey our opinions and ideas to normal people to help them understand the importance of our work while boosting their life quality. There will definitely be a knowledge gap or scope difference there, though not a significant one between a modern man and an ancient peasant. Still, we need to carefully rephrase our explanations and try to understand their feelings by thinking the problems from their perspective. Once failed, we will not “get burnt” by the farmers in the old times, but inefficient conversation will hinder the public’s understanding of key progresses and fundamental issues, such as continuous invention of new drugs, synthesis of new polymers for advanced manufacturing, programing intelligent robots targeting at dangerous jobs, and understanding the climate change pattern on the global scale. If we can help them understand these cutting-edge technologies, they can be more confident and prepared to face the incoming challenges, for example increasing global population and unexpected natural disasters.
Next week, I will have one oral presentation on GSA Research Symposium and one poster presentation on CEE Research Day. Hopefully I can get my ideas and findings efficiently conveyed while enjoying the whole process.