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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Science Needs to Tell Their Stories

I'm working on an magazine issue intended to tell teens and their parents about nanotechnology, a field that manipulates molecules for an amazing number of applications. In doing research as I tried to figure out what to include in the magazine, I came across an endorsement of narrative at a workshop
. . . these major findings underscore a general finding that echoes the grounded theory methodology used to solicit this data: the narrative is an indispensable device to collect moral and social observations about nanotechnology, including those dealing with the categories of ethics, meaning, and belief mentioned above. As stated in Nanotalk: "Narrative is one of the most basic tools that human beings have for making sense of perception and experience and to invest those with meaning. Narrative provides access to the important but often unarticulated hopes, fears, expectations, and assumptions regarding our relationships to our bodies, to one another, and to the physical world we inhabit. It also brings to light essential, yet otherwise tacit, elements of the human psyche . . . narrative emerges in the public discourse to establish the meaning and significance of that technology" (Berne, 2006, pp. 17-18). For this reason, the very valuable act of using narrative in this project--of applying words and verbal expressions of imagination to science and scientific discovery--has emerged as an important finding about the ways in which one can create ancillary discoveries in fields in and beyond science, such as the humanities, and the ways one can work with scientists to express more meaningfully the nature of their work.
This quote was part of a presentation by a researcher who has a National Science Foundation grant to study some aspect of the ethical, legal, and other social implications of nanotechnology.


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