The art of science storytelling

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


The public notion that science must be strictly objective and documentaries must contain exact truth limits engagement in higher scientific topics important to human and environmental health. In order for people to believe scientific findings, they must trust those presenting the studies. A person's trust is not related to his or her education level, but to perceived values of the scientists themselves. This occurrence affects not just scientific studies, but nonfiction films and literature, as well. To understand this phenomenon of scientific distrust, I studied successful nonfiction films and literature, as discussed in the body of the paper and case study. I produced a website to show how medical information and storytelling techniques can exist together. The site seeks to gather the Microtia community and dispel myths about this congenital deformity affecting hearing and ear development. The popularity of documentaries opens a dialogue of scientific discussions among experts and laypeople, as long as a filmmaker's values align with viewers' values. When documentary filmmakers design captivating characters that viewers can easily relate to, the scientific message is clear. Authors and filmmakers promote positive social changes when communicating science through storytelling.


The attached supplement is an archived version of Microtia memoirs, a website that is part of the student's thesis project and was originally available from Summary: Microtia Memoirs is a website explaining those confusing Microtia myths. This is a community space where people with Microtia and those who support them can find all the answers in one place. The split-down-the-middle design simulates the nature of Microtia, where usually only one ear is affected. We combine story and fact to give you an interactive experience, whether or not you have Microtia.



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