‘And the band played on’ movie fragment no. 3

From The Embassy of Good Science

‘And the band played on’ movie fragment no. 3

Instructions for:TraineeTrainer
See the related instruction on the full workshop using movie fragments (general approach).
Duration (hours)
For whom is this important?

What is this about?

Description of the fragment:

The first evidence is found that the disease is sexually transmitted. However this not enough proof yet to decide to close the gay bath houses. The statements at the press conference are cautiously phrased to prevent a nation-wide panic. Dr. Don Francis is furious, because he fears that the disease will spread further if the public is not aware of the transmission.

Points for discussion:

As a scientist one would want to continue doing research until the evidence is solid proof. However, the social responsibility to society or to patients would urge you to warn them as soon as possible about the possibility of sexually transmitting the disease. A maybe more political view on the responsibility to society might be to prevent a panic.

What is right? There seems to be harm on both sides of this dilemma. Take into account that at that moment in time, when this fragment takes place, the real cause and effect, including the enormous and disastrous spread of the disease, were still unknown.

Knowing what we now know about HIV, AIDS and the world-wide consequences, can we hold Dr. Curran responsible for an unnecessary spread of disease after not disclosing the inconclusive evidence at this point in time? And if so, why? And what does that mean for researchers, in any field of research?

Practical Tips

Read the description of the general approach of this workshop.

The debate and dialogue exercise of VIRT2UE is suitable to this fragment. See the description of the steps.

This exercise is best to be combined with other (similar or related) exercises. Embed this in a workshop, e.g. with multiple movie fragments. Introduce the workshop rst, e.g. as described elsewhere.

The movie fragment

Show the movie fragment.

Dividing groups

Ask the group who they vouch for: Dr. Jim Curran or Dr. Don Francis. Show their picture with their names so that all participants remember who is who. Based on their choice, the group is divided in two groups.

1. If one group turns out to be really small, you can ask if a couple of participants feel condent to switch teams.

2. In case there are some participants who don’t feel condent to choose either one, you could decide to include them in the exercise as observers.


Now, start a debate between both groups. Ask them to convince the other team to support their movie character (Dr. Jim Curran or Dr. Don Francis).

Stop the discussion after a couple of minutes for some reflection:

1. How did the participants feel about the conversation? What was the atmosphere like?

2. If some participants were assigned to be observers, they rst describe what they saw happening.

3. Make notes on a black- or whiteboard or flip-over about the characteristics of the discussion (e.g. competitive, interruptions, raising voices).

Reflection (1)

Ask the group how the conversation could be improved. List their suggestions on the black- or whiteboard or flip-over sheet in a new column.

Debate versus dialogue

Explain the difference between a debate and a dialogue. Do the participants recognise their answers in step 2 as describing a debate and their answers to step 3 as a dialogue?


Continue the conversation between the two groups and ask them to try to make it a dialogue instead of debate. The observers get to call for a time out when they feel the dialogue shifts to a debate.

Reflection (2)

Reflect again. What differences did they experience? What felt better? Do they understand the choice of the other team and feel understood by that team themselves, and how did the style of conversation influence that?


Optional step: do the students recognise the characteristics of a debate and a dialogue in the movie fragment?


Close the exercise with underlining the importance of good communication in dealing with research integrity issues and dilemma’s. Continue with the next fragment or next part of the workshop.