Don't be a scientist

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DON'T BE SUCH A SCIENTIST Talking Substance in an Age of Style by Randy Olson Island Press Washington Covelo LondonCopyright © 2009 Randy Olson All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher: Island Press, 1718 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009. ISLAND PRESS is a trademark of the Center for Resource Economics. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Olson, Randy, 1955– Don't be such a scientist: talking substance in an age of style / by Randy Olson. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-1-59726-563-8 (pbk.: alk. paper) ISBN-10: 1-59726-563-2 (pbk : alk. paper) 1. Communication in science. 2. Science in motion pictures. I. Title. Q223.O47 2009 501.4—dc22 2009007081 Printed on recycled, acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Keywords: Public speaking, public relations, messaging, anti-science movement, academia, film, documentary, Hollywood, conservation, evolution, Flock of Dodos, Carl Sagan, science and entertainment exchangeTHREE Don't Be Such a Poor Storyteller I want to share with you the single most humiliating public experience of my life. In the spring of 1990, Spike Lee's movie Do the Right Thing was hitting America, I was a professor at the University of New Hampshire, and suddenly Spike was on campus for a simple event called “Open Mike with Spike.” More than a thousand students packed a huge room in the student union just to ask him questions from two standing microphones. I decided to take a shot. I had just made my first foray to Hollywood with a screenplay, so I began telling him about my trip, my meeting at Columbia Pictures studios, what the executives I met with said, and a whole lot of other things—but something strange started happening about five minutes into my comment/question. I began hearing this reverberating, echoing sound that was bouncing around the massive auditorium. I couldn't quite make it out at first except I realized it was voices—a lot of voices—student voices—hundreds of them—a chorus—and then I finally paused my speech for a moment and heard what they were chanting. “Get to the point, get to the point, get to the point” A wave of terror swept over me. I looked back at Spike and finished my speech by quickly blurting out, “So, like, what's up with that?” Then I put my tail between my legs and walked, head down, to the back of the hall. It turned out the event was being broadcast live on the student radio station. The next day a student stopped me in the hallway of the biology department and said, “Professor Olson, was that you last night asking that half-hour question?” You Bore Me I used to have a German girlfriend. She was very funny—she came from Bavaria, where they love to laugh. I also used to be invited to go on trips with Harvard University alumni as a “guest naturalist,” meaning I would help explain what the old folks were seeing in nature during trips to Norway, Antarctica, Australia, and Central America. I took this girlfriend with me on several trips. She would listen to me talk and talk and talk to the old folks, and finally, by the end of each day, she would have had enough. So her favorite thing to do in the evenings was, when I was donetalking, to look deeply, romantically, lovingly into my eyes and say in a soft and seductive Germanic voice . . . “You bore me.” Which was true. I bore myself sometimes. I learned the art of boredom from my father. He was a military historian, and we were his pupils—my two brothers, two sisters, and I—at the dinner table. He served in Vietnam as a troop advisor in the early 1960s, and he felt a deep need for us all to understand the depth and complexity of the Vietnam problem. But the lectures on Vietnam weren't just about what was going on there at the moment. Oh, no. That would have been too simple and relevant. No, his lectures had to begin at the beginning, back before the American involvement, before the French involvement, back . . . oh, I don't know, maybe in the Paleozoic era or something. He would drone on and on for hours, not telling a story, just ambling about, relaying a stream of consciousness made up of all the disconnected factoids and tidbits floating around in his head. And we were like that “get to the point” audience. (How in the world could I have ever made the same mistake in public? Had to be a genetic element at work.) Here's a big surprise: I grew up to be a scientist. And, guess what . . . Scientists Are Poor Storytellers Do you really need proof of this? If you do, go visit a research laboratory, walk into any lab, and ask the guy with the thickest glasses, “So what are you studying here?” Then take a seat, put your elbow on the table, chin in palm, and settle in for a half-hour ramble. How do I know this? Because I was one of those guys when I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Tourists would ask about my automated underwater starfish larvae growth chambers and I would unleash a long- winded discourse that I felt wasn't finished until I had put out the fires of their curiosity. “D'ya wanna know more?” I'd proudly ask their backsides as they fled out the door. It's a problem. Another girlfriend developed an affectionate nicknamefor me, “Chief Longwind,” which she would abbreviate when I'd get going on something and just say, “That's enough for tonight, Chief.” If you take a look back at those wonderful Stephen Jay Gould essays in Natural History magazine, what you'll see, as I mentioned, is a clear partitioning of the opening few paragraphs, providing the arousal, and then the following few pages, giving the fulfillment. This worked to a point, but the truth is that some of the opening hooks did make one wonder, “What exactly is this going to have to do with science?” Then, especially in his later years, he slipped into overstaying his welcome in the fulfillment parts. Some essays had page after page of minutia about taxonomists and natural history. He lost even me. The arousal bit can take you only so far with the reader. So the arouse-and-fulfill strategy has its limitations. For all you scientists out there, it's kind of like the surface area to volume function in limiting organism size—you eventually reach a point where there's not enough surface area for gas exchange and the organism can't get any larger. At that point, the organism has to have a circulatory system. In other words, there has to be a different way of doing things. For communication, that different way, beyond the simple arouse-and-fulfill model, is storytelling. It is an enormously powerful means of communication. With good storytelling you end up both arousing and fulfilling at the same time, which allows you to sustain interest over much larger amounts of material. Storytelling is equal parts art and science. And there we have it already. Like all these other things we've been discussing, it's made up of two parts. One is more objective, the other more subjective. The first part, story structure (or just story), is the objective part of telling a story. There is a science to story structure. It is something that can be taught and analyzed. The major studios in Hollywood have story departments, with story editors and story analysts. At film schools thereare countless courses in story writing in which the fundamental components of telling a story are taught. Most screenplays, for starters, have an incredibly formulaic structure that is nailed down almost to the page. A standard screenplay is about 120 pages and has three acts that, in round numbers, are about 30, 60, and 30 pages in length, and each page roughly equals a minute of screen time. Within these three acts there are a number of points of structure, such as the “first plot point,” which by convention generally occurs somewhere between pages 23 and 28. This is the point where the calm and quiet world of the opening act is suddenly overturned by the major “inciting incident”—the kidnapping, the murder, the declaration of war. Then there is a “midpoint” somewhere around the midpoint of the script (big surprise) . . . On and on, lots and lots of structure, which allows script analysts to determine if the formulas are being followed and, if not, to bring in a “script doctor” to fix things. Story structure brings with it a great deal of seemingly objective rules and conformity—the sorts of things that make scientists very happy and content. But there's a second element called character, and guess what? It's much, much more subjective. Where story is toward the science end of the spectrum, character is more toward the art end. Character is the way the actors talk and dress and walk and pose and laugh and all those things that end up being what people imitate years later when they talk about their favorite movies. One of my favorite quotes from film school is from an interview we read with Rex Ingram, director of the classic 1921 silent movie The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in which he said, “Nine times out of ten it's character that people remember from their favorite movies rather than story.” And that's pretty darn true. Think of your favorite movie. Maybe it's Casablanca? You remember Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, the bitter, cynical American expatriate,and all his famous lines about rounding up the usual suspects, beautiful friendships, and playing piano songs. What most people don't think of is the story point where Rick double-crosses Renault. You think of the characters that inhabit your favorite movies—Rocky, Rhett Butler, Dorothy Gale, Forrest Gump—not the story lines. Character is so much more powerful and deep and complex, but it is also very elusive, hard to teach, hard to analyze. Sound familiar? It's the same divide as substance and style. And so you can imagine that if a scientist were to become a screenwriter, he or she would probably be naturally more drawn to story than to character—telling precisely crafted, intricate stories in which all the facts add up, but . . . the characters are dull. But story is also incredibly important. And even though character is such a powerful and memorable part of it, it is through the properly structured story that the true magic emerges. From film school to the present I have been slowly and surely learning this, the hard way, through trial and error. Entering film school at the University of Southern California, a lot of us thought we were great and gifted directors who very soon would be directing massive-budget movies, making them work like precision machines without even breaking a sweat. Three years later we were all pretty much wrecks, our self-confidence in shambles. Film school will do that to you as you learn of the infinite complexities of film (remember all those elements I itemized earlier) and find out that telling a clear and simple story is a true art. The variety of elements alone allows enormous complexity. Then consider the sheer and total insanity of actors (just think of my insane acting teacher). You begin to realize that instead of running a precision machine, you're trying to drive an old jalopy with a loose steering wheel and mud all over the windshield. Directing a movie is not easy. In our first semester we were taught a simple old adage, “If it ain't onthe page, it ain't on the stage,” which means that if you haven't invested immense time and energy in the writing of a really good script, which gives everyone involved with the movie a clear picture of the finished product, you probably aren't going to end up with a very good movie. I thought this was nonsense at first. I was a brilliantly talented filmmaker who had a crystal clear vision of the films I wanted to make. I didn't need to slave over some tedious script. I knew, deep in my heart, that I could take any script, no matter how ramshackle, dull, and pointless, and, with my actors and my camera positions, craft it into a masterpiece. The only thing I didn't know was that I was really naïve. And would have to learn things the hard way. Through the school of hard poundings on the head. When I finished film school I was forty-two years old—already practically retirement age in Hollywood—and despite the award-winning musical comedy I had directed in film school I was offered a big fat nothing when it came time to find work. (It was 1996, and I was told by every agent and manager I met that musicals were a thing of the 1950s, dead and over, never to been seen again, despite Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Evita, and a stack of other hugely popular musicals that would emerge a few years later—ah, Hollywood.) I wanted to direct comedy movies. In the end, the only opportunity to direct a feature comedy I could find involved a couple of young actors who wrote a not-so-great script, cast themselves as the leads, found a private investor, and hired me to direct it. I threw my massive ego into the project, determined to show I could turn any sow's ear into solid gold —and I failed. We ended up with a movie that, while fun, had not-so- great acting, didn't tell a good story, and had nobody wanting to buy and distribute it. The whole process was deeply painful. It drove me down, by 1999, to the deepest, bleakest depths of Hollywood despair. All of the big agentsand managers who loved my musical (even though they told me the genre was dead, they appreciated what I had done), and who were still trying to think of ways to get me work, took one look at the movie and it was over. In an instant. That's what they do in Hollywood: you get your one shot. Those guys all shook their heads and basically said to themselves, “Ah, just like all the other schmucks. We knew he couldn't direct.” It would take seven years for me to get over the trauma of that failed movie. But when I finally did, it occurred through a near religious experience in the making of Flock of Dodos, which brought me around to finally understanding, through much pain and suffering, why there is so much focus on storytelling in Hollywood. It was the most powerful experience of my filmmaking career, and it reveals so much that I must now go through it in excruciating detail— though I'll try to get to the point fairly quickly so you don't start chanting at me. Forging the Story of Flock of Dodos The point of this section is that you have to have a story. There. I got to the point. Are you happy now? As I mentioned earlier, in 2005 I read an article in the New Yorker titled “Devolution: Why Intelligent Design Isn't” by H. Allen Orr, which prompted me almost instantaneously to start filming Flock of Dodos. Yielding to my improv and Meisner training, I quickly assembled a crew, flew to Kansas, and spent a week filming interviews. Then we went to the East Coast for another week of interviews, and before I knew it I was sitting in our editing suite in Los Angeles showing these interviews to friends and listening to their enthusiastic responses. What they all said was the same thing, over and over: “This is incredible raw material. Now if you can just put it together into a story, you'll have a good film.”Yeah. Very simple. Like standing in your living room looking down at the floor, where hundreds of unassembled pieces of a gargantuan Ikea combination desk/dresser/chopping table are laid out, but you have no instructions or picture of the finished product. Just a bunch of friends admiring the beauty of the unassembled pieces and saying, “We know you can do it—we can sense you've got something great here.” And the extension of that is, “However, if you fail to put these pieces together in a way that works, we're going to write you off as a total loser and make you feel guilty for having taken up the time of the good people you interviewed.” The pressure began to build as we started editing. And now I want to tell you how this film came together on a weekly basis so you can, I hope, appreciate the magic and power of storytelling as I did. In the first week of editing I created what is called an “assembly cut,” which means I took all the interesting pieces of interviews and interesting scenery and spliced them together into about a three-and-a-half-hour cut, which I showed to only one person, my good friend and trusted longtime producer, Ty Carlisle. He said, “Okay, nice start. You've clearly got the goods; now get to work crafting a story.” It was like a giant piece of marble, ready to be sculpted into the Venus de Milo. But for now it was just a giant, shapeless lump. The next week I started putting together sequences. I made up a bunch of rules for myself, like “The story needs to start with the quirky little tidbit about my mother being neighbors with the big lawyer for intelligent design in Kansas, John Calvert,” and “It needs to work its way to the grand synthesis of what evolution is and why it's so important to teach,” and others that I made up as I went along. That Friday I called together the six or seven folks working with me— my sound editor, animator, producer, cameraman, and so on, for a viewing in our office. This cut was about two and a half hours. When it ended and I turned up the lights, everyone seemed exhausted and hadpages and pages of notes. We began talking about the movie, and though everyone echoed what Ty had said the week before—that the raw materials were there—nobody was smiling. They began going through their notes, and disagreements broke out. One person said, “You need to open with the Dover trial, since that's what's in the news right now,” and another said, “No, you need to finish with the Dover trial; it brings us up to date with current events.” On and on, for an hour of nearly complete disagreement. Everyone's suggestions were huge in scope—like “Move this entire section to the front”—and nobody felt particularly confident in their suggestions. I went to work on the next cut, this time opening with a description of the big, bad Discovery Institute, which led into the topic of intelligent design and then . . . on and on. That third week's version was down to about two hours, but when I flipped on the lights at the end of the viewing, the faces looked even grumpier and everyone still basicallydisagreed. Worst of all, I began to split off from the rest of the group. I began to say, “I'm actually liking this cut—it's starting to work pretty well for me,” while the others were saying, “It still doesn't tell a good story. Nobody other than professors will want to watch this.” Our disagreements were intensifying, and I was starting to take it personally—which led to the big blowout at the end of week four. When the lights came up at the end of the week four viewing, the gloves came off. I had a smile on my face and said, “Looks like it's about there.” No one else was smiling. Everyone said, “Sorry, but it's just not a story. You've got a few good sequences here, but it doesn't add up, doesn't build toward anything. It's . . . boring.” Of course, those are fighting words, which is precisely what happened. I ended up snapping at everyone, telling them they were blind, that it was a great movie and it was almost done. It had to be done because we were running out of money. But they all held their ground and withheld their praise (my friends are tough). And I erupted, shouting at them, telling them to get out of the editing suite, that they sucked and didn't know what they were talking about. When they all left, I closed the door and sat in front of the computer, and the darkness began to settle in. I stared at the clips on the screen and began to realize we had 200,000 tied up in something that my crew was telling me would never make it out of classroom viewings. This couldn't happen. So I plunged headfirst into the abyss. I called Ty and told him to take the next three days off. I went home and got a few days' changes of clothes and then came back and went to work. I did the standard movie-writing thing of filling out index cards for every scene and placing them all over the floor. And I began searching for “the structure” of a possible story. I ordered food delivered. I slept on the couch. I cut and recut the scenes. And, slowly but surely, a very simple (and in retrospect obvious)story began to emerge. It was the story of a man who sets out on a journey to save a damsel in distress. He must protect her from the dragon that lives next door. But when he finally confronts the dragon, it turns out to be a teddy bear. He realizes the real threat is not the dragon but an evil empire, and in the third act he goes in search of it. That ended up being the more or less “mythic” structure beneath the story I told for Flock of Dodos. I was the “man,” the “damsel” was my mother, her “homeland” was Kansas, the “dragon” was her neighbor, the lawyer for intelligent design, and the “evil empire” was the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Somewhere around Wednesday night I finally hit on these revelations and pulled together the rough pieces, and Friday afternoon, when I unlocked the door and allowed everyone back inside to view what I had assembled . . . a miracle happened. When I turned up the lights at the end of the viewing, there were smiles all around. People said, “That was fun,” and “That blew by in what seemed like about thirty minutes” (it was still nearly two hours), and, most important, “You've finally got a story.” Their notes were now minuscule. Instead of suggestions for moving huge blocks of material from one section to another, the suggestions were things like “You should add a few more seconds of Dr. Steve Case and maybe make a graphic to illustrate what he's talking about,” “We need more of your mother,” and things of that sort. Never again was there a major frown of frustration or boredom from viewers, whether during an editing screening or at a public event. The simple structured story has carried the film through hundreds of public screenings with all sizes of audience. Bring the lights down, tell everyone a simple story, and they will allow you to get away with all sorts of things. It is truly magic. And that's how you get beyond the arouse-and-fulfill dictum. Keep thestory going and you can keep the flow of information going . . . forever. That's what a good television series is—an ongoing story, week after week, feeding you information about the characters and story. But There's a Catch: You Have to Suspend Disbelief So now we know how to convey information in a wonderfully enjoyable and painless way through the telling of a story. It would seem that if scientists were interested in communicating at all, they would use storytelling at every opportunity. But there's a catch. For an audience to enjoy a story, they have to take part in an exercise of trust known as the “suspension of disbelief.” The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, coined the term in his Biographia Literaria when he referred to “that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith.” The audience has to be willing to believe the storyteller at every turn and not bog the process down by asking themselves, “Do I really believe this could happen?” If you have to ask yourself that, you can't enjoy the story. It's a fundamental rule of storytelling, and it's where scientists get left out of the picture because their job is to question everything. This is what scientists do for a living: they are trained not to take the bait. When you give a scientist a paper to read, instead of being your typical rube and believing every word simply because it's in print, he or she will question the premise, question the assumption, demand to see data, demand that you cite your sources—scientists just aren't gonna go for a ride in a car until they've kicked the tires and looked under the hood. This is why the phrase “Scientists agree . . .” actually means something. But it comes at a price—actually, a couple of prices. The price of storytelling, here, and the price of “likeability,” which I'll discuss in the next chapter. The refusal of scientists to suspend disbelief occurred with my filmSizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. The film is a “mockumentary,” mixing the reality of my being a scientist-turned-filmmaker with the fictitious premise of my trying to make a documentary about global warming that runs into countless problems. The mix of genres ends up splitting the scientists out of the audience, as I explain in detail in appendix 1. This is not to say that scientists can't enjoy plenty of stories. But still, I promise you, they simply do not enjoy them as much as the general public. They view themselves as the “designated drivers” of the storytelling audience. While everyone gets drunk on entertainment, the scientist maintains a certain level of sobriety, always keeping an eye on the facts. I remember seeing scientist Carl Sagan on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1977, talking about the new science fiction movie called Star Wars. He agreed that the film was wonderfully fun, but he said he was still disappointed at tiny details they didn't have straight, like Han Solo using the term “parsec” as a unit of time when it's actually a unit of distance. And, yes, now you're thinking, “Well, that happens for anyone—if I go see a film shot in my hometown, the Bronx, and there are snow-covered mountains in the distance (as there were in Jackie Chan's campy Rumble in the Bronx, shot in Vancouver), I'll have the same problem enjoying the film.” Yes, but it's different for scientists because this mind-set is such a fundamental way of life in the profession of science—it is applied to everything. Archplot, Miniplot, and Antiplot It's worth taking a minute here to delve a tiny bit further into story structure and why it is such a fundamental part of communication. The telling of stories is how we come to understand our lives.One of the best books written about it is Story, by Robert McKee. McKee identifies three types of plot and describes their structure by using a triangle (see figure 3-2). At the top of the triangle is the classic blockbuster movie story line, which has mythic structure underlying it. He calls this “archplot” (pronounced arc-plot). Archplot produces what McKee calls “classical design,” meaning all the standard things we think of—a hero sets out on a journey to combat the forces of evil, is faced with challenges, has lots of ups and downs, and eventually succeeds, concluding the story with a happy ending. This structure includes everything from Star Wars to Rambo. At the base of the triangle are two types of movies that don't do those things. Miniplot is pretty much the opposite of archplot—there might not be a single hero, the struggle might not be against bad guys but instead might be within the hero's head, there might be many enemies, and the story concludes with an ending that can be vague and unresolved—an “open” ending. These are smaller, more artsy movies, like Tender Mercies and Paris, Texas. Antiplot is the other extreme, where plot is simply thrown out thewindow—no interest, care, or concern for telling a story. Events jump around randomly, things happen for no particular reason (including coincidence), and not much adds up logically. This includes crazy movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and experimental films like Meshes of the Afternoon. So much of our daily lives consists of having real-world experiences that are somewhere near the base of the triangle—a long way from archplot, and maybe even in the realm of antiplot—just a bunch of random events. But the way we make sense of events is by editing, trimming, rearranging, and massaging the information in an effort to slowly move it toward archplot. We try to make it into one of the simple stories we best know how to understand and relate to. We try to simplify things into a single good guy and a single bad guy with a single clear conflict that leads to a climax and then a resolution. We can't always make this happen, but when it does, it's very satisfying. And very accessible to the general public. This is what I did with Flock of Dodos. I made the whole complicated issue into a simple story of one “hero” (myself) setting out on a journey to confront one “bad guy” (my mother's neighbor). And, as I said, as soon as I rearranged all our material to tell that story, it instantly became watchable. The molding of the real world into story structure takes place every day. I think the first time I became aware of it was in my freshman year of college at the University of Kansas, when I was living in the Sigma Nu fraternity house. Night after night we would “go out drinking” at the bars, moderately interesting things would happen, and then, the next morning, as all the guys would awaken with hangovers, the stories would be told. And lo and behold, an evening's worth of random events would, in the minds of the better storytellers, emerge as something much closer to archplot—for example, one of our guys at the bar “who was just minding his own business” (the hero of our story) had a beer splashed on him by a jerk (the antagonist), who then called him a name (crisis), and onward asa not-that-simple evening is reworked into a simple, fun story that everyone can follow. The fact that our hero was also a jerk and was hardly splashed with the beer and didn't really feel that challenged— those are all details that got left out in the interest of telling a better story. The key point is the fundamental movement from miniplot or antiplot to archplot as a means of reaching a broader audience. And now it is time for all of us who are scientists to brace ourselves and come to realize that we are no better than the rest of the human race when it comes to communicating our science, because . . . Scientists Are Fs? Okay. Sorry about that heading (the word is “frauds”), but I didn't come up with it. It comes from a Nobel laureate who, judging from his writings, was a very cool fellow. If you take a look at the world of science today and compare it with science in the 1950s, you see that the entire profession has slowly been becoming more “humanized” and less of the tortured, self-denying bunch of objectivists of the sort that Ayn Rand would have advocated. Scientists are more openly human today, and this fellow was a keen observer of the changes early on. His name was Sir Peter Brian (or P. B.) Medawar. He won the Nobel for his work in physiology revealing the role of the immune system in tissue transplants. He died in 1987 after being awarded virtually every major honor possible in the world of science. He was, of course, a prolific writer of scientific works, but he also had a great many other interests in life, including opera, cricket, the philosophy of science, and the role of science in society in general. As part of that last interest, he wrote a very interesting short article in 1963 titled “Is the Scientific Paper a Fraud?” He answered his question with a resounding yes:“The scientific paper is a fraud in the sense that it does give a totally misleading narrative of the processes of thought thatgo into the making of scientific discoveries.” Specifically, he took issue with the way the standard scientific paper is written—and, guess what, remember how I told you how clearly structured a screenplay is for a movie? Well, it's the same deal for a scientific paper—the same three acts. Most scientific papers are written according to a very strict template that consists of four sections: introduction, methods, results, discussion. But those sections are the same as the three-act structure. Act One—the introduction, in which the current state of knowledge is laid out, at the end of which, ideally, the knowledge is brought together into a specific question that needs to be investigated (the equivalent to the “inciting incident” in screenplays) and a hypothesis is proposed. Act Two—“things happen” as methods are described and then the results of the experiment are reported in a completely impersonal way. “Just the facts, Ma'am” is the basic tenet of the second act. Act Three—the more human element is brought in as the facts collected (the graphs and tables of data) are analyzed and the so-called hypothetico-deductive method is applied to make sense of what just happened and synthesize it into the grand scheme. In the same way that the movie's lead character pulls it all together at the end of the story—whether it's Rambo laying out his philosophy of life or Bill Murray as John Winger in Stripes summarizing his patriotic sentiments—both the third act of a movie and the discussion section of a scientific paper are the place for the grand synthesis. It's basic storytelling dynamics. What Medawar complained about was the charade the science world has engaged in over the ages in pretending that science is conducted with robotic processes that are not contaminated by the irrationalities of human thought and bias. The inherent philosophy of a scientific paper is the assumption that science is conducted through the process of deduction —that the scientist blindly goes about gathering information on all