UT professors discuss public view of science

Samuel Tackitt

The hosts and producer of “Two Guys on Your Head," the KUT radio show on science and the brain, discussed their show and the public understanding of science at a talk at the Belo Center for New Media on Wednesday.

Art Markman and Bob Duke, UT professors and hosts of the show, and the show’s producer, Rebecca McInroy, spoke about the establishment of “Two Guys On Your Head” and the importance of teaching this science to young students. The show features discussions on various aspects of psychology and the scientific process.  

McInroy said she invited Markman, psychology professor, to appear on the psychology episode on her radio show “Views and Brews” after receiving a call from one of his affiliates. 

“I was under the impression that we had to play music,” Markman said. “Thank goodness that wasn’t the case, but I called [Duke] up anyway to accompany me on the show.”

Duke, music and human learning professor, said he recorded two episodes with Markman before McInroy realized that she wanted to create a new show focusing on the brain. 

“We didn’t want the show to feel teach-y” Duke said. “What’s missing from science education is work on the scientific process.”

McInroy said each show is a collaborative effort. 

“I wanted people to feel like they had been to a dinner party after each episode,” McInroy said. “One thing that’s great about working with [Markman] and [Duke] is that we trust each other.”

Duke said they discuss a specific topic each episode, with an emphasis on psychology.

“Science is about a process,” Duke said. “The show works to teach the process and things that aren’t intuitive. A lot of students have the misconception that science is a group of facts. Science changes constantly.”

Markman said that a problem with the public’s understanding of science is a lack of good science teachers.

“I tell my colleagues to tithe 10 percent to the field, give 10 percent of your work time to teaching the community,” Markman said. “Luckily, a growing number of people are willing to teach the public.”

According to Duke, researcher bias creates an issue of trust between scientists and the public.

“There is no such thing as inherently dispassionate data,” Duke said. “So long as humans are involved, a bias will be present. A system was developed to thwart that bias though: That system is science.”