Science journalist: unrealistic expectations about science matter

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Science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker re-posted this terrific cartoon on BoingBoing.net, writing:

Made by scientist Paul Vallett for his Electron Cafe blog, this funny cartoon is essentially about the differences between how science happens in the movies, and how science happens in real life.

On the one hand, I like it a lot, because the speed and ease of movie science does lead people to expect major breakthroughs to happen quickly, and makes them less critical of the sort of PR and journalism that tries to paint every new paper as a game-changer. In fact, you could probably make a case for movie science being one of the drivers that helps to create that bad PR and journalism to begin with. If decades of film and television have trained people to expect easy “Eureka!” moments, maybe they’re likely to have less interest in nuanced results, or the fact that not all published science is correct. Unrealistic expectations matter.

Public perception of science.jpg

Thanks, first, to Paul, and then to Maggie for bringing it to our attention so we could bring it to yours.

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