Anna Ploszajski

Why You Shouldn’t Expect Science to Save Us

At TEDxManchester, we love storytelling. Stories underpin culture, and are a powerful vehicle for communication, empathy and change. Our deep understanding of narrative, shaped by a lifetime of absorbing stories, creates expectations in us; such as romance, justice, and happily ever afters. This applies not only to fiction, but our own lives, too.

But when it comes to science have we drunk too much of the storytelling Kool-Aid? Scientific stories often conform to narratives of discovery and progress, but the reality is much more nuanced; science is full of uncertainty, complexity and guess-work. At its best, stories can help us process such complexity, but the risk is that the resolution of how heroic scientists will solve the world’s big problems is never coming.

In this TEDx talk, Anna Ploszajski will seek to unravel the dangers of storytelling, using examples deep-rooted in all of us, to help us question our collective narratives. she’ll reveal the murky mechanics under the surface of stories, prompting you to challenge your expectations in science and beyond.

A Scientific Storyteller

Dr Anna Ploszajski is an award-winning materials scientist, author, presenter, comedian and storyteller based in London. Her work centres around engaging traditionally underserved audiences with materials science and engineering through storytelling on the screen, radio, stage and page.

Having developed her own unique blend of autobiographical scientific storytelling in her first book, Handmade: A Scientist’s Search for Meaning Through Making, she now trains professional researchers and teachers to communicate what they do better, through story.

She is currently undertaking a research project to analyse persuasive narratives in scientific publishing using machine learning. In her spare time, Anna plays the trumpet in a funk and soul covers band and swam the English Channel in 2018. Oh, and it’s pronounced “Por-shy-ski”.

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