Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Entertainment

May 2, 2013

Alan Alda wants scientists to cut out the jargon

(Continued)

Alda shared what he called his best examples of clear communication with Tomlinson and his fellow teaching assistants.

About a decade ago, Alda said, he was in Chile filming a segment for "Scientific American Frontiers" when he was stricken with sharp stomach pains. He was evacuated from an 8,000-foot observatory and taken in an old rickety ambulance to a small, dimly lit clinic, where a doctor examined him and said he would require life-saving surgery.

"Some of your intestine has gone bad, and we have to cut out the bad part and sew the two good ends together," the physician explained.

"And I said, 'You're going to do an end-to-end anastamosis.' He said, 'How do you know that?' And I said, 'Oh, I did many of them on 'M.A.S.H.' That was the first operation I learned about on M.A.S.H.'"

After the classroom erupted in laughter, Alda concluded:

"He didn't waste any time on me trying to figure what he was talking about. He said it in the clearest terms possible. He didn't sacrifice any accuracy by making it clear."

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