Why @RustyRockets is a new, brilliant voice in #SciComm
Launched last week, Russell Brand’s new podcast called ‘Under the Skin’ is a fusion of Jim Al-Khalili’s Life Scientific and Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Allowed. Its first episode draws from political science and is centred on the work of Dr Brad Evans, a social scientist at Bristol University. Dr Evans is thoroughly engaged by the idea that academics need to take their place as public intellectuals and bring a different kind of conversation to public discourse about all matters related to knowledge and understanding. Together, they do a great job of dealing with one of the most complex topics of human history, namely the means of our own governance and the problem of power.
There is much within their discussion that I want to take issue with (and that's what any listener should take from it), but from a purely #SciComm perspective, it is a fantastic new addition to our community. It begins with Brand speaking of his new found love for academia, as he has been taking an MA at SOAS. His reverence for academia has grown since and his pursuit of this course and the podcast is a new chapter in his compelling journey of self-enlightenment, which underpins much of his inquiry based media creations.
Over a 90 minute show titled “Can We Really Stop Terror?” the two of them get into the nitty gritty of political governance, mentioning Foucault, Bauman, Derrida, Nietzsche and many more scholars. Towards the end of its first show, Brand makes efforts to ensure his listeners don’t conclude that the show is just "a lot of dense academic language and Russell Brand showing off" , wanting instead that listeners feel they have got “under the skin” of an issue and appreciate its complexity. Yet, Brand's desire for the podcast to be instrumental to revolution is latent within the dialogue.
If you like Al-Khalili’s manner of getting to know a scientist and enjoy Taylor’s socio-political analysis of our world, while also wanting something that has a little of Have I Got News For You thrown in, then this is a worthy addition to your podcast library. Likening Derrida to a villain out of Batman is just one of the nuggets worth tuning in for. He even mentioned Prof Brian Cox ;)