Perspectives in biology and medicine;
Science is facing a turbulent backlash in which it is often viewed as "just another opinion" among many competing unscientifically backed anecdotes. In these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, when guidance from public health epidemiologists and administrators is critical, it is incumbent on all of us to consider how we can use data to tell emotionally compelling stories aimed at improving public health. When informing the public about COVID-19 and other pressing public health issues, the author argues that we must begin with emotionally captivating stories, grounded in science. Supporting this approach is the work of psychologist Paul Slovic, who has shown that human beings are not only hard-wired to be story-driven, but that we are not, in general, moved by data. The challenge, then, is to tell emotionally captivating stories supported by data, especially in these divisive times.