Today is the official publication date of Unscientific America, and the first of our articles related to the book is out, in Salon.com. It’s a piece focused on the entertainment industry and its role in perpetrating negative images of science–with a central focus on Michael Crichton, who also perpetrated outright misinformation about global warming.
The article starts with the film Angels & Demons, and the story of CERN, wrongly thought to be carrying out all manner of dangerous science–and then gets to the big thesis:
The experience of CERN is, more broadly, the experience of science in our culture today. It is simultaneously admired and yet viewed as dangerously powerful and slightly malevolent — an uneasiness that comes across repeatedly in Hollywood depictions. As science-fiction film director James Cameron (“Aliens,” “Terminator,” “Titanic”) has observed, the movies tend to depict scientists “as idiosyncratic nerds or actively the villains.” That’s not only unfair to scientists: It’s unhealthy for the place of science in our culture — no small matter at a time of climate crisis, bioweapon threats, pandemic diseases and untold future controversies that will surely erupt as science continues to dramatically change our world and our politics. To begin to counter this problem, though, we need to wake up to a new recognition: Fixing the problem of science education in our schools, although very important, is not the sole solution. We also have to do something about the cultural standing of science — heavily influenced by politics and mass media — and that’s a very different matter.
You can read the full piece here….