Science deeply investigates natural phenomena, constantly developing new theories about how nature operates. Consequently, science is also very complicated. Understanding the language and the meaning behind scientific findings can be a daunting obstacle to overcome. Because of this, the popularization of science is vitally important. Communicating science to the general public can reinvigorate the scientific community, cure a plague of ignorance caused by pseudoscience, and contribute to the overall benefit of society. The possibilities excite the imagination.
People, since the dawn of time, have been driven by curiosity. When the field of science was first being developed, understanding everyday natural interactions was enough. In the modern era, however, more is needed. Society has sometimes tried to push the idea that science isn’t cool or it’s too hard- despite the fact that we rely on it in our everyday lives. Part of this comes from the overly technical or dry nature of scientific articles. It’s hard to read them if you haven’t learned the basic components of the scientific field the article falls under. This leads to a need for popular science articles such as those found in Wired magazine or the aptly named Popular Science. Even a simple Twitter feed can educate the public. One such example is @, the official Twitter handle for NASA’s Curiosity Rover. By personalizing a rover and engaging with the public with pictures from Mars and scientific facts, NASA has been able to build a wider audience for the work they do. This can even lead to making the public more enthusiastic about scientific projects- to the point of creating parodies such as @ on Twitter.
However, there is a dark side to all of this. Pseudo-science is a plague that has infected society for years. Crop circles, the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, and paranormal activity are all examples of popular tabloid pseudoscience articles. In most cases, the average media consumer will flock to these outlets or hear it in passing and believe them because of their enticing qualities. Ghost hunting shows are a common example of how the average person consumes misleading information because of the exciting and often dangerous implications. However, almost all pseudoscience can be debunked easily by basic scientific inquiry. Despite this, people continue to believe the false reports since they sound simple and believable enough to be true. Empirical evidence can be obscured and new, innovative ideas can be slowed to a halt by people simple refusing to let go of ideas constructed by pseudoscience (Funk & Rainie, “Introduction “). Carl Sagan, in the Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, expressed his anguish toward ignorance, “Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves.” If done correctly, science popularization, will be able to provide the same comfort and thrill that people get from pseudoscience while not hindering scientific advances and avoiding the continued suffering of others.
The pursuit of knowledge has been a key factor in the development of the human race. In fact, decisions on how cultures develop should be more heavily dependent on known facts. Ignorance of the facts in this case can lead to long term negative effects to a large number of people. Popularizing science allows people to make more informed decisions on important scientific issues. For example, global warming is a highly controversial issue where empirical evidence is ignored. Having a scientifically focused society may result in an appropriate plan to manage global warming. (Pigliucci & Boudry, “The Dangers of Pseudoscience”) In that single example, the world as a whole can be drastically changed. By that, the importance of scientifically informed decision making is a vital progression in human-nature interactions.
Thus, with more science being understood by the general public, many benefits would arise. The scientific community would have a new wave of progress, pseudoscience would no longer be a big problem, and the world as a whole would benefit from informed decision making. It won’t be a simple or straight forward task but it is a vital one that is indispensable.
Written by Shane, edited by Alexis
Pigliucci, Massimo, and Maarten Boudry. “The Dangers of Pseudoscience.” The New York Times . N.p., 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/the-dangers-of-pseudoscience/?_r=0.
Funk, Cary, and Lee Rainie. “Introduction .” Pew Research Center. N.p., 1 July 2015. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/07/01/introduction-23.
Sagan, Carl. The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. New York: Random House, 1995. Print.