Monday, February 15, 2010

The Everlasting Debate

So, in light of all this talk about denialism and "anti-science" (really?), I should explain my views on the anti-science movement. It's quite unfortunate that there is a fairly large population of people in this country that don't really believe in science. On this campus, they're called philosophy majors (just kidding, don't hate me), but overall they are everywhere in the population. It seems that there are many different (and easy) ways to turn people away from science, but it's difficult to get them on our side again. As one of my classmates mentions on her blog, a lot of the anti-science movement is stemming from propaganda. Whether its on the radio or on TV, there are many advertisements for homeopathy, or alternative medicine, and other enhancements for the human body. Now, why do people trust the creepy "doctor" selling drugs via television? I'm not sure. But they do.

Another way the general public can be turned away from science is through scientists themselves. Now, as a science major who is friends with other science majors, I know we like to blame everyone but ourselves. Unfortunately, some scientists can do wrong (no way!) and mislead the public. As Michael Specter discussed on his podcast on Science Friday, scientists sometimes tend to romanticize science and give unrealistic expectations on developments. When science "fails" to deliver those promises, the public gets disappointed and rejects science.

The public is generally going to believe what they want when it comes to moral issues, void of scientific merit. The first caller on the Specter podcast was a perfect example of that. We, as scientists, can only hope that we can have a positive influence on the general public and try to hold their attention long enough to educate them about certain concepts. At least the ones that could prevent illnesses or may be beneficial to their health.


  1. "Ascend a pyramid and sacrifice a heart of a slave to the sun god!" AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    Wow that's priceless.
    Yeah, most of the reason why people don't trust scientists anymore is because of commercials for "miracle medicines".
    Great post.

  2. Yes, scientists need to be aware of the public perception of their work. Making constant claims about "miracle cures" or "breakthroughs" through the PR department is only asking for trouble if you don't deliver on your promises.

    Nice blog you have here. :) Keep at it - the world needs more young science bloggers.