Yesterday on NPR’s Sunday morning broadcast, I heard an interview with Alan Alda about his new book and ongoing work to make science comprehensible to normal people. His discussion was completely parallel to work to make the legal system comprehensible.
Alda has identified the fundamental problem of communication between experts and lay people, that crosses over so many fields — from dentists, to scientists, to doctors, to lawyers. People steeped in a field have forgotten (or don’t want to spend the time acknowledging) the point of view of a non-expert. They use jargon, and oblique phrasings, and other insider communications that all but guarantee most people won’t engage with what they say.
To combat this phenomenon, Alda, along with the Kavli Foundation, has opened an initiative, the Alda-Kavli Learning Center for Science Communication. It spotlights, curates, and promotes better practices for communicating science and medicine topics. The center has online and in-person workshops to train professionals about how to speak and present their work.
What would this model look like, as applied to the legal system? More widespread training of lawyers to make processes, strategies, and the system clear to lay people — and then promotion and best practices of new ways of communicating.