Powerpoint Can Kill?
When a plane crashes, or even more rarely a spacecraft, the cause is seldom one thing. The systems they have catch and overcome single failures, or single human errors.
It usually takes a number of connecting events or failures to crash a plane or space shuttle, e.g. bad weather, a mechanical failure, plus a pilot error.
When reviewing the Columbia disaster, which could have been prevented, one factor that has come up on several occasions was the role that Powerpoint played in the deaths of those astronauts.
In this sense, powerpoint can indeed kill, (not just with boredom) and not on its own.
The error within NASA was that they suspected damage had occured during takeoff but underrated its significance and risk.
##Powerpoint Simplifies and Dumbs It Down There’s an argument that the tendency to use powerpoint to explain complex problems at NASA (and elsewhere), and its tendency to drive a particular style, obscured critical data and made inaccurate information seem trustworthy.
Edward Tufte is an information presentation expert - and his books are worth reading if you are interested. The short form of his analysis though is that powerpoint while seeming to be attractive through cutting data down to a few key points fails in that some problems and situations are more complicated than that and require more information to be properly understood.
##The Ten Word Soundbyte There’s a lovely episode in The West Wing where the President is preparing for an election debate with his opposition party candidate. And he explains that the issues that face people, and their solutions, cannot be properly addressed with a ten word soundbyte.
Catchy slogans and short sentences meet the needs of our attention limited media and TV formats. But to understand something important, like climate science (regardless of your pro or con views) or vaccination, it takes more than one sentence or three bullet points.
Somewhere along the line we have lost sight of this. And people are genuinely dying as a result.