we're in trouble! - (2 points)

Paul Grobstein pgrobste at brynmawr.edu
Thu Jun 30 08:39:27 EST 1994

In article <1994Jun29.173805.46323 at ucl.ac.uk>, spbcnsp at ucl.ac.uk (Mr
Neville Steven Percy) wrote:

> Przemko writes:
> >Dan Zabetakis writes:

> >a lot cut out
> This is a damn good point -- no one thinks of science as current.  If you ask
> the guy in the street about 'Scientists' he thinks about science fiction, not
> the things that we are doing in the here and now.  Strange, that.
> I think that means we have to popularize science all the more, if the media as
> they stand are representing us far more as science fiction pseudoscientists 
> and postmodern Frankensteins, we have to come forward more.  It may hurt, but 
> we have to come forward and suggest that we're doing ordinary things, instead
> of only getting in the media when some major breakthrough (or minor disaster) 
> occurs.
> My chief point is that science is taken for granted until something major 
> occurs, and then it's always hyped up, and milked for all the political or 
> commercial potential it might have.  We are never shown in a normal light.

A damned good point squared, and largely OUR fault.  As opposed to that of
movie producers, newspaper writers, religious fanatics, and others accused
one place or another in this discussion.  They all help, certainly, but the
basic image of science is that provided by scientists themselves, who tend
as a community (with exceptions) to pride themselves as the generators and
possessors of highly arcane, enormously significant knowledge  which only
they can REALLY appreciate.  Remember that movie producers, newspaper
writers, religious fanatics (as well as most scientists) took science
courses at one or another point in their lives, and remember what THOSE are
like.  The real solution to improving public perception of science isn't to
excoriate the bad guys, nor to be fatalistic.  It is instead for those of
us who are scientists and understand what science REALLY is to spend more
time teaching in a style which is more honest about what science REALLY is.
 "Scientists aren't people who KNOW things, they are people who continually
QUESTION things."  "Science is not an arcane activity done only by highly
trained congential nerds, it is instead nothing more (and nothing less)
than a way of asking and answering questions used by all human beings from
the time they are born."  And so on.  Get THAT across, and scientists will
be appreciated for what they ARE because EVERYONE will be a member of the
pgrobste at brynmawr.edu
"Machines certainly run more efficiently with standardized parts, but the
effort to create them is a cause of considerable stress ... It may be time
to discard the metaphors of the machine age for not only the health of the
biological sciences but that of our culture and species as well."

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