Chris Mooney has written an eye-opening opinion article for new scientist. In the article, Mooney celebrates the recent popularity of science in pop-culture, highlighting the success of The Big Bang Theory and Cosmos. Thanks to the creators of these shows, science and scientists are being positively portrayed in primetime. If you read the great post from CauseScience yesterday by psgurel (Science and Society: an observation), you know that trust and popularity of science does not equate to society’s view of controversial science. Chris Mooney also makes this point in his article, and gives his opinion on how science enthusiasts are also able to be science deniers. Mooney spells out important next steps for creators of these shows to translate popularity of science to meaningful change in society’s ‘belief’ in science.
What we need to do is separate the concept of science engagement from that of science denial – to pull apart dazzling and fascinating from convincing and persuading. Why? Because then we will see that science denial is a personal and psychological phenomenon, rooted in belief and identity, which can’t be washed away by a wave of science boosterism.
Now comes the hard part: show us not just that science is cool and fascinating, but that science denial is destructive or even immoral.
Show us that science denial is unacceptable in a scientifically advanced society. Tell us stories of people overcoming it, and becoming better for it. Because right now it remains far too accepted, far too normalised and far too easy to get away with.