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Tiina Raevaara

Can a thriller writer tell something essential about science?

In recent years, science communication has turned its attention to popular culture. Science-themed stand-up comedy and Dance Your PhD contest
are examples of the science communication in the entertainment era. On the other hand, many Finnish research funders are willing to support collaboration between scientists and artists – they appreciate that the scientific results could be communicated through art.

Not everyone likes the phenomenon. Some scholars suspect that science is turning into entertainment, and the trend is diminishing the prestige of science.

In my presentation I argue that science communication needs more artists and entertainers. For example, thriller books can cover important and serious scientific issues. In art, it is also possible to bring up science-linked issues that have not been discussed in public, such as the scientist’s own fears, doubts, or hopes. There is no room for feelings in traditional research communication, although they could tell something essential about the topic.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the associated “infodemic” show that society still needs a deeper understanding of science. Simply disseminating the accurate information is not enough. In the future, collaboration between scientists and artists will be crucial in whether we can overcome, for example, acute environmental crises.

What I Do

Tiina Raevaara is an acclaimed Finnish author and a freelance journalist who has written short stories, novels and non-fiction books. Raevaara holds a PhD in genetics and has written articles about science for several esteemed Finnish newspapers and magazines.