Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts, Commentary, History and Philosophy of Science, Reference and Writing

From Aristotle to South Park: An online seminar with Randy Olson


In Houston, We Have a Narrative, consummate storyteller—and Hollywood screenwriter and former scientist and communications expert—Randy Olson, conveys his no-nonsense, results-oriented approach to writing about science, the stuff of some of our greatest plots. On December 1, 2015, at 2PM, Olson will be leading an hour-long, online seminar for the AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society). In addition to conveying the fascinating journey of how he left a tenured professorship in marine biology to write for the movies, Olson will let you know why—and, but, therefore—how.

From the AAAS’s description:

He had a single goal — the search for something that might improve the communication of science. He found it in a narrative template he crafted and labeled as “The ABT.” The ABT is adapted from the co-creators of the Emmy and Peabody award-winning animated series, South Park. In a 2011 documentary about the show, they talked about their “Rule of Replacing” which they use for editing scripts. Their rule involves replacing the word “and” with “but” or “therefore.” From this Olson devised his “And, But, Therefore” template (the ABT). This has become the central tool for his new book, “Houston, We Have A Narrative,” his work with individual scientists, and his Story Circles Narrative Training program he has been developing over the past year with NIH and USDA. In this webinar, co-sponsored by the Society for Conservation Biology and the American Geophysical Union/AGU’s Sharing Science program, he will present what he has termed “The ABT Framework” which refers to “the ABT way of thinking.”

You can sign up for the webinar (12/1 at 2PM, EST) here.

To read more about Houston, We Have a Narrative, click here.