S.H.I.T. Show to the people! (an update)

S.H.I.T. Show to the people! (an update)

July 17, 2019 0 By Santiago
Reading Time: 4 minutes

OK, so we arranged our first ever Science&Health Informal Talk (S.H.I.T.) Show in Amsterdam. We uploaded pictures from it on our social media, but where’s that written update we promised you?? Sorry for the delay, but it’s summer here. Plus, the preparation for the event took some time and accumulated our responsibilities outside the Ivory Embassy. But enough of excuses, here you’ll finally get it:

It went well, thank you for asking!

Our first show about the past, present, and future of gene editing (especially CRISPR) was (in our opinion, of course) a success! I mean, we managed to gather more than 50 highly motivated and enthusiastic people of different backgrounds, cram them into the Vondelbunker in Amsterdam, and it was a blast!

Still, it’s not all about the numbers, what impacted us the most was that the show seems to have triggered questions, discussions, and curiosity among non-scientists. You know, normal people. You guys approached us to discuss extremely relevant topics after the show. And it warmed our hearts.

“What if I want to change my nose size with CRISPR? Can I find a gene and just cut it?”

“Can we kill bacteria with CRISPR, and if so, how?”

“What’s the first thing you would change on yourselves using CRISPR?”

There was one question about Alzheimer’s disease as well. Something about changing a gene so that Alzheimer’s disease could do something in the brain… I can’t remember…

The point is, you had super relevant questions that trigger extended thinking about gene editing: its applications, its potentials, and its pitfalls. Woah… The fact that you activated the problem-solving part of your brain and used it to visualize different theoretical and realistic scenarios means that you got it.

How was the show structured?

The set-up was simple: A brief introduction about the upcoming S.H.I.T. Show by our favorite Eileen, followed by a short gene-editing/CRISPR introduction, and finally, the stories describing three CRISPR applications.

  1. How gene-editing and CRISPR are used to manipulate plants and animals
  2. How gene-editing and CRISPR are used to treat disease
  3. If and how gene-editing and CRISPR are used or could be used to design babies.

And then we got philosophical. Is CRISPR a necessary evil or unnecessary salvation? Is it as bad as the media portray it?

We think that – by highlighting the good and bad aspects in each story, the realistic and surreal aspects, and the thing in between – we managed at least to gently push you in the direction of critical and scientific thinking patterns. We even gave you resources on how to learn more about the reality of gene editing to engage you further. Just like that!

(For more information, see the World Health Organization’s work on gene editing or the current projects of Rathenau Instituut in the Netherlands.)

Alright, enough shoulder-patting. What did the audience think of it?

What you thought about it

The feedback was overall extremely positive. People enjoyed the talks, laughed a bit, and felt a spark to learn more. And like I wrote before; we noticed the enthusiasm afterward.

Still, we got some valuable feedback on how to improve future events. We received many tips on how to better engage people and ideas on how to structure S.H.I.T to represent the audience’s (your) questions and concerns. We appreciate all the helpful comments, and we’ll improve where needed.

So, what’s the future for the S.H.I.T. Show? Any more shows?

We said that we would continue doing this shit if we’d enjoy it, and with my over-excitement you probably kind of sense that we did. Now, the question is: in which format? We’ll come back to you as soon as we’re ready to expose our idea — one step at the time. For sure we’ll arrange more similar shenanigans in the future, so keep your eyes and ears open.

Next aim is to post something about elephants and cancer, maybe gender and sex, perhaps a combination of all. Until then, thank you all for the support and enjoy the sun or rain.

A big thank you and hug to the people that helped us before, during, and after the show: the people at the Vondelbunker, especially Laura and Sam for the audio/visuals, Laurianne for the photos (psst… check out her Instagram @cocoabar_passage if you like chocolate… and I don’t mean that stupid movie from way back), Anais for the last minute poster printing, and last but not least, all S.H.I.T. supporters out there!

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