There is nothing like reading a good book or watching a great movie for a little escapism and entertainment. With all of the television channels out there and access to the internet, you can watch just about anything you want at any time. In Unit 2, you talked about the science involved with technology, but in this Assignment, you are going to turn the tables and delve into how the media portrays science.
How does a pop culture portrayal of science and scientists impact the average person’s view of what science is and how research is conducted? Can what is presented by the media affect how the general populace views a particular research field? What might the long-term impacts of such a depiction be? These are just a few questions that you will reflect upon in this Assignment.
Your paper should address the following questions:
- When you hear the word “scientist” what do you envision? Which famous people or characters from the media come into your mind? What characteristics do they have in common? Discuss at least three characteristics of your vision of a scientist.
- Has your image of what a scientist does and how they look changed over time? If so, how has this changed and what influenced you?
- Are fictional scientists usually the heroes, villains, or a combination of the two? Provide at least two detailed examples to support your position.
- How is science portrayed in fictional media (television shows, movies, music, books, etc.)? Is it seen as a positive, negative, or neutral force in the world? Give specific examples supporting your position.
- Do you think the portrayal of scientists in the various forms of media influences how society views people in this profession? Why, or why not?
- Can the portrayal of science in media influence how certain research and technology is viewed, and accepted, by the general public (e.g., cloning)?
Your Final Project should be written in an essay format, with an introduction and conclusion. The paper will require you to include details from research including the course materials and sources you locate on your own. Use APA format to cite your sources of information, both within parenthetical citations and also within a reference page at the end of the project.
Basic Writing Expectations:
- A minimum of 1,500 words, not counting the title or reference pages
- At least 3 academic resources utilized
- Include a title page, double space, font size 10 or 12
- Include a highly developed viewpoint/thesis, purpose, and exceptional content
- Demonstrate superior organization: use logic
- Free of grammar and spelling errors
- No evidence of plagiarism. Note: no more than 10% of your paper should be direct quotes
- Use the APA style for all in-text citations, references, and body of paper
When I hear the word "scientist" I think about Sheldon and Lenard from the Big Bang Theory, then I think about what type of scientist the discussion may be referring to. I see a chemist differently than a herpetologist, physicist, or marine biologist. Some of the notable people from science that come to my mind are people like Sir Isaak Newton, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Carl Sagan, Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter and, Steven Hawking. Characteristics of scientist can include, curiosity, open-minded and free of bias, keen observer, resourceful, purposeful, persistent, Great communication skills, Creative, Critical Thinker and, Courageous. Thinking about Sheldon or Lenard from Big Bang Theory they are, Curious, Sheldon is always finding something to invent or coming up with something. Lenard is open-minded and usually free of bias. Albert Einstein was very resourceful, persistent, a critical thinker and very courageous for his time.
The "classic" image that I envision most people have would be the white lab coat, thick glasses, pocket protector, working with Bunsen burners and beakers. Scientist's do not all wear the stereotypical white lab coat as portrayed in so many TV shows and movies. Through my research of notable scientists in fiction and reality is only a few fields of the sciences would fit this image. With The technology of today I believe more scientists and engineers to be common household names. The media also often portrays a scientist as nerdy or comical such as, Sheldon and Lenard. One common photograph is of Albert Einstein with his tongue showing. Einstein was not just a great scientist, he was also a philosopher, politician, and activist. In this regard, he published several books about scientific divulgence, Hitler ordered his death, he was offered the presidency of Israel, and he urged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to build the first nuclear weapon. Nevertheless, some people remember Einstein as the “comical old man". Another classic example for the comical aspect would be the infamous Rube Goldberg Device for engineering. Although spoofy actually some of the contraptions are amazing to watch the events unfold. I see people of science as very intelligent but not in nerdy fashion. I still remember a time I sat with several NASA engineers at a retirement party. Indeed a very interesting conversation on rocket engineering.
Attire appropriate for the work conditions would need to be worn. Scientists can be defined as people who are involved in the systematic and documented study of the phenomena that occur in nature but are not limited to just physics, chemistry or biology. They can indulge in studies related to the makeup of the earth and social scenarios where they study and try to understand the behavior of a group of individuals of a particular species, sub-species or any other such classification. They can be classified into various categories based on the branch of science that they are involved in. Some such categories are Mathematicians, Astronomers, Physicists, Biologists, Botanists, Geneticists, Medical Scientists, Microbiologists, Neuroscientists, Pathologists, Pharmacologists, Zoologists, Biochemists, and Computer Scientists. There are many more branches of science which a person can become a specialist of a unique aspect of study.
For myself the image of a scientist has changed drastically over the years. As a child the image was of what is primarily in the media such as the traditional white lab coat but as I matured so did my "image" of scientists as I learned about the various sciences what sort of tasks are involved in the research. Such as a geologists studying a volcano is not appearing anything like a botanist in the rain forest or a chemist determining a formula for a new product. I still find myself imagining stereotypical images for people working in various scientific fields of study.
Fictional scientists can be the heroes such as, Spock from Star Trek to villains such as, Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2, Dr Emmett Brown in, Back to the Future, Dr Victor Frankenstein in, Frankenstein. Among the various forms of media there are a multitude of scientists as superheroes, heroes, side-kicks, and villains. In a list of the Top scientists in media I found several different images such as the "White Lab Coat": Dr Emmett Brown, Back to the Future, Dr Bunsen Honeydew, The Muppets, Hubert J Farnsworth, Futurama. Business attire: The Professor, Gilligan's Island, Agent Dana Scully, The X-Files, Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park. Unethical: C.A. Rotwang, Metropolis, Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein. Borderline good/sp00py: Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk, Walter White, Breaking Bad.
Scientists are usually portrayed as the stereotypical nerds in fictional media today. This could be seen as a negative force in the world. If we all walk around thinking that Sheldon is the scientist that is going to save your life, I think we all would rethink that treatment. Thinking about Dr. House from House, makes me want a Dr. just as proficient as him. I believe the portrayal of scientists in the various forms of media influences the bias that people still have about certain professions such as, Herpetology if you do not have a properly educated person reporting on reptiles, people are going to still continue to hate them and kill them. Media reporting of science and scientists can be useful for making scientific knowledge available to the general public and provide relevant information that can influence their daily lives. With the benefit of circulation of scientific knowledge is the enormous potential for miscommunication. The media has sensationalized stories, can be biased in reporting and even at times could have a conflict of interest Sensationalism can instill the reader with false hope or even paranoia if information is exaggerated for the purpose of holding the reader’s attention. Issues of bias can arise if those quoted in the article benefit from the message it portrays. Because scientific practice involves continuous experimentation, a lack of follow-up on the research reported can also skew the reader’s understanding, as the knowledge base rapidly changes; this is especially important when considering potential treatments for various ailments. A great example of sensationalism in the media is when the media portrays a snake (python) a dangerous and deadly beast. They blow the picture out of proportion to make it look bigger. Yes pythons can kill you but they do not bite to kill. They do not eat babies.
In science, data is collected over an extended period of time. It is driven by curiosity that is grounded in uncertainties, and aims to produce reliable information regarding the world around us, while maintaining a certain level of skepticism. Scientific writing is written passively, in an impersonal tone and undergoes an extensive review process in which the eyes of many experts perfect the nuances of its content. Media content is produced within a restricted time frame, in a manner that must be accessible to the audience. It focuses on telling a story and presenting information that it deems its audience will see as relevant and marketable.
Science in the media can influence how certain research and technology is view such as, Cancer research look how far we have come with all the Breast cancer awareness and all the research they have done. The survival rate is MUCH higher now than 15-20 years ago. HIV is another great example of how the media can influence your view, imagine how many deaths we would have today without all the research and media awareness. We now have test tube babies. I just saw on the news a few days ago about womb transplants, that’s amazing.