Unscientific America Inspires a Science-Popularization Contest

By Chris Mooney | March 15, 2010 11:43 am

We were very pleased to come across the following news yesterday about a contest that was held for students of the CUNY system:

Altogether, 12 CUNY undergraduates–out of 101 applicants–received awards for their essays based on 2009 Nobel prize-winning work in chemistry, physiology and medicine, physics, and economics. First, second and third prizes in each category included an Apple iMac Computer, a Dell Mini 10 Netbook, and an Amazon Kindle.

The impetus for the competition, said Vice Chancellor Gillian Small in her opening remarks, came about when the 2009 Nobel winners were announced, and she was reading a recent book of essays titled Unscientific America, How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future.

“There is a distressingly large number of Americans who refuse to accept even the theory of evolution,” said Small, who envisioned the competition’s essays making Nobel work in science accessible to a larger audience.

What a wonderful idea. This is just more evidence–and it is everywhere–that despite some hold-outs, an emphasis on fixing science communication is the new trend within science itself…and these are just the kinds of initiatives that will spur along that change.

Comments (1)

  1. J.J.E.

    Clearly improving science communication is a worthy goal and I’d say it isn’t very controversial that a substantial proportion of improvements on that front should come from “within science itself”.

    However, I still think it is controversial that improving “science communication” is the most effective way to improve acceptance of science, especially when there are countervailing forces that seek specifically to erect obstacles to topics like AGW, evolution, and cosmology. Kudos for the shout-out, but I continue to think that there aren’t any holdouts of note for ways to improve science communication.

    Now if only we could measure how well such efforts actually were at increasing science acceptance.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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