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What a Mangled COVID Press Conference Tells Us About the Need for Good Storytelling

Data must be shared convincingly

As families throughout the UK settled in for an evening of scary movies and calories this Halloween, we were interrupted by a new and far more horrifying tradition — the televised government COVID briefing. Here in Edinburgh, our family had a merciful sense of distance, because many of the aspects of the fight against the virus are devolved, meaning that the restrictions to be announced would apply only in England. Scotland, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, have their own rules.

What bothered me about this particular press conference was the quality of the presentation. A lot has already been written about how Boris Johnson’s government is handling things, look here, here and here for examples. Ministers have been accused many times of not "following the science" so perhaps in an attempt to counter such criticism, Johnson handed the briefing over to Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance to "present the latest data."

Unfortunately, the Powerpoint slides that the UK government presented to us on Saturday, which we can only assume were intended to demonstrate their understanding of ‘the science’ were messy, overly complicated, disjointed and confusing. Professor Alice Roberts of the University of Birmingham, among others called out this particular egregious example.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Scholarly Kitchen.

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