Former M*A*S*H star Alan Alda has done some important work after leaving the show. On top of being an actor, writer, and director, Alda is also passionate about science communication and combatting misinformation.
While the internet puts a lot of information at our fingertips, Alda has cautioned that it also puts a lot of misinformation in front of us as well.
“You have to check the source. There’s a lot of fake information out there: Gargle with this; hold your breath for 10 seconds. If the only source is ‘my cousin who knows somebody who knows somebody in the health care field,’ that’s not a reliable source and can do more harm than good,” he explained in a 2020 interview with AARP.
He also recommended some quality resources.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization — those are the best sources, and you’ve got to go straight to their websites to see what they have to say. I also cross-check information at Snopes.com as often as I can,” he explained. “But beyond that, in a fundamental way, there’s a problem we have now that we haven’t had before, which is that we’re operating within our own circles of kinship and friendship and information.”
How Alan Alda Spent 2020
For Alda, it’s clear that nothing is more emblematic about the issues facing this new information age than how some people responded to the coronavirus. He, however, spent his 2020 very cautiously and took in information from reliable sources.
Still, the actor and activist did find some ways to let loose, with 6 feet apart walks with friends. He also noted that the time in quarantine allowed himself and his wife new ways to get creative. His wife, Arlene, who’s an author, also found ways to beat COVID blues with painting and cooking.
“I haven’t eaten this well since the last epidemic,” Alan Alda joked.
He also tried to remain positive yet realistic.
“The other day, we were walking 6 feet apart with friends in a secluded area and I said, ‘What’s the best thing that’s happened since this began?’ One friend looked at me with a kind of stupefied expression, like, What do you mean “best”? What’s good?“
Alda’s explained that it’s not about being an optimist that’s lost in hope and wishes, but about finding the good in tough situations.
Alda’s work on trying to better factual communication has not gone unnoticed. And in the modern digital landscape, the work gets more and more crucial. Now, Alda has a podcast called Clear + Vivid where he talks to a wide variety of different guests with the goal of clear and effective communication. With his current podcast and his advocacy outside of it, his work on M*A*S*H truly was just the beginning for him.