Episode 201 : Angela Rasmussen On Complexity, Failure, & Communicating Effectively

Featured Guest: Angie Rasmussen

  • Sep 03, 2020

“One of the things that’s been lost is that complexity & the nuance that’s necessary to understand”

Dr. Angela Rasmussen is a virologist at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who studies host response to viral infection. She is also a brilliant writer and communicator, particularly around Covid-19. We discuss communicating uncertainty with the public, dealing with failure as a scientist, specialization as a barrier, and false dichotomies.

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Key Learnings

1. Starting off with complexity and uncertainty juxtaposed with the binary choices that frame Covid-19

2. The fear response to complexity and the demand for an answer

3. Defining a fundamental misunderstanding between the science community and the public at large with respect to communicating uncertainty

4. The challenge of misinformation and the terrible conflicts of interests that exist with those who are promoting it

5. Trust, transparency, and inspiration

6. Why the idea of “virus hunter” is steeped in exclusion and colonialism

7. Dealing with different types of failure when the stakes are high

8. How misinformation and lack of understanding may impact the Covid-19 vaccine process

9. Why specialization is a communication barrier & how we can make scientific discussions more inclusive

10. The origins of her superb article on false dichotomies and Covid-19


Twitter: @angie_rasmussen

Dr. Rasmussen’s website

Covid-19 & False Dichotomies: Time to Change The Black-Or-White Messaging About Health, Economy, SARS-CoV-2 Transmission & Masks

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