Data, Documentaries and Decision-making
Tierney Thys, National Geographic Explorer, California Academy of Sciences
While the volume of peer-reviewed studies illustrating the realities of myriad environmental issues grows, a sizable portion of the US public either doesn’t believe the science is real, isn’t able to understand it, doesn’t care about the findings, or simply isn’t convinced humans could play any large part in large issues as climate change and overfishing. Will more data lead the way towards more sustainable behaviors and or can simple well-told stories have a larger persuasive impact? How do these two tactics work? Do they operate on different parts of our brains? Can neuroscience help inform more effective messaging? In this presentation we’ll explore a selection of case studies that showcase different ways of welding scientific information to motivate behavioral changes and examine what works, what doesn’t and where there is room for improvement.
Dr. Tierney Thys is a National Geographic Explorer and Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. Tierney’s work bridges the worlds of primary research and science communication to promote environmental understanding and stewardship. With degrees from Brown and Duke University, she served as Research Director at Sea Studios Foundation and helped create the multimillion dollar series Strange Days on Planet Earth (www.pbs.org/strangedays) and Shape of Life (www.pbs.org/kcet/shapeoflife). Recent film projects include 5 short films for TEDed on a variety of topics including: plankton; animal evolution; plastic pollution and; sharks. Ongoing projects include: Neurobiophilia (neurobiophilia.org) exploring how nature impacts the brain; the Blue Room–a research project studying the effects of nature imagery on inmates and staff at Snake River Correctional Institute’s Maximum Security Unit in Oregon with Nalini Nadkarni. The Blue Room was named one of Time Magazine’s top inventions of 2014. Tierney also serves as the Daily Explorer in the online game, Animal Jam, boasting 50 million registered players in 120 countries and 5 languages. Last but not least Tierney is an ocean sunfish world expert, runs www.oceansunfish.org, Adopt A Sunfish and serves on the board for the TED Braintrust, Revive & Restore Foundation and Wildscreen Trust. She received her undergraduate Biology degree from Brown University and doctorate from Duke University in Zoology.