If you work in research uptake you’ve thought about whether to invest time and money in video. Unless you embrace using new channels and communications tools your messaging won’t be going as far, wide or deep as it could. It’s not easy though, and sometimes you really need to think outside the box.
One scientist whose job is very much ‘all about science’ was frustrated at how few views their well-made videos about understanding science were getting compared to the millions of views attracted by so many ‘junk science’ videos. His reaction was to try to beat them at their own game.
Jonathan Jarry is a Science Communicator at McGill University’s Office for Science and Society – ‘Separating sense from nonsense’ is their strapline. Their website has lots of great science explainer videos – but they don’t go viral. Jarry’s frustration at the latest foolish cancer cure video inspired him to try a new tactic. As he described to the CBC, he created the viral video in about a day and a half using stock footage and upbeat music to recreate the look and feel of a hoax health video. He says it appeals to people’s sense that they’re being lied to and that easy answers are out there. ‘I think the conspiracy mindset is a big one. We’re all wired to the think that there are conspiracies here and there, and some people are more susceptible to this kind of thinking than others.’
‘This NATURAL TRICK can CURE YOUR CANCER‘ uses classic clickbait, ‘too good to be true’ headlines and tools. All of it is total nonsense – but that hasn’t stopped it from getting more than 12 million views so far. At least viewers won’t be left in any doubt by the end of the video that a common garden moss does not in fact cure cancer, and they’ll learn something about critical thinking in the process.
Just as interesting for science communicators is looking at the stats. The 12 million views are from all sources, but while the video on YouTube has about 84,000 views, the one on Facebook is at 5.1 million.
The original video is available in English and French (as it’s made in Canada) and the team are in the process of editing into Spanish, Italian, Hungarian and Croation. If you’d like to help them get it out in your language, contact them via Twitter or Facebook.