questionspop-culture science... good or bad?

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Bad. I hate seeing news articles like "Scientists find cure for cancer" that turn out to be oversimplified to the point of idiocy to get people's attention.

That said, the state of science and math education in this country makes me want to cry.

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I'm torn. It was tv shows like this that helped to get and keep me interested in science and technology when I was a kid. I see kids now who watch these shows and get excited about math and science. I see non-techy minded parents watching these shows with their little geeklings and not feeling too overwhelmed and better able to encourage their kids to continue to pursue their interests. And that's great and, especially where kids are involved, it gives me hope for the future. Plus, I love geeking out with junior high and young high school kids who are just starting to really understand things.

However I also recognize that a lot of pop-culture science is so simplified that it's not really science anymore. So many scientific studies are taken so out of context and end up fueling diet fads or scaring people into thinking that their water bottles are going to kill them. And that does a lot more harm than good.

But at least the pop-culture science shows are better than most reality tv.

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If there had been more shows like this when I was a teen, I would've discovered just how fascinating I found physics. THEN I probably would have found myself a math tutor early on rather than struggle through the 2 years of Math I needed to graduate.

My state only required 2 years of math & 2 of PE to graduate. WhooHoo! That meant no gross hair, no sweated off make up my Junior & Senior years (priorities, you see), and coasting through on English, Humanities, & History courses.

Through The Wormhole was opening a can of worms last night with the intelligence of different races/bell curve discussion. I remember when The Bell Curve by Richard J. Herrnstein was published. That certainly set off a firestorm of political correctness in science discussions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve

The Beverley Hillbillies is better than most reality tv shows! Please explain what happened to the History Channel? I watch Ancient Aliens for grins. But seriously?

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@gt0163c: Watching a bucket of garbage develop flies and maggots would be better that most reality TVshows.

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In some sectors of this country, it seems that science is being disregarded and even suppressed in favor of religion. Some people seem to feel that the two cannot coexist. It's easy to vilify what one does not understand. I think that making science accessible to the average person is a very good thing right now. Even if they do not truly understand, they don't feel threatened by it, and if it can be made interesting and plausible to average viewers it makes it harder for extremists to make the case that it should be discarded.

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Well, I know when I watch those kinds of shows, if I find the subject interesting, I'll do more research and learn more about it.

I'll go to my grave thinking electricity is magic.

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@lavikinga: It all happened when they changed their slogan to "History made every day." If everything we do will one day be called history, then it's okay to have programs about aliens and psychics and ghosts and pawn brokers. Makes no sense, unless you're in marketing.

@moondrake: I'm gonna have to disagree with you there. When you try reconciling science and religion, you end up with the Creation "Museum" and Jesus riding a T-Rex. That isn't science, it's creation science. Extremists don't care about facts, only truths. They cherry pick the parts of science they agree with, and call the rest lies. That's not being educated or rational, and no TV show will change their minds.

However, that isn't a reason not to try. Who knows, if we shove enough knowledge and reason down the fundie's throats, maybe a few of them will see the light. Anything's possible. edit: I don't know who downvoted you, but it wasn't me. I may disagree, but you made your point well.

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@rprebel: Now, now. Don't poke at the fundamentalists. That's just being ugly. Put yourself in the shoes of devout believers in a creationist god. Imagine believing in something your whole life as undeniable Fact. Then imagine being confronted with the idea of all that you've held as good, and holy, and true wasn't quite correct. More than heaven & earth, Horatio. That realization could be earth shattering and very frightening, no?
Fear motivates people to say and do all sorts of things. Sometimes it's easier to blame both the awful AND the good things that happen to us in life on something, or someone, more powerful than ourselves. For some, it's an easier coping mechanism rather than realizing sometimes bad crap just happens, even to "good" people.

I give people like this a pass. Whether people believe in a God or not, they're still liable to commit evil acts on others, in their God's name or not. Sometimes people suck at being nice just because they're total sh7ts.

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@rprebel: I'm of the opinion that the more you understand about fundamental physics, the more I am likely to believe in some intelligence or "god" behind it all. Even Einstein thought that his discoveries were proof of the existence of god. Some even believe that the simple ability to believe in a higher power is a sign of intelligence and what sets us apart from the apes, and gives us self-awareness.

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@lavikinga: I used to be one of those people, devout in my belief. Sometime around age 16 (20 years ago), it all fell apart. Too many fundamental questions with no answers, or my personal favorite non-answer...the Lord works in mysterious ways.

I usually give them a pass, too. You have to when you live in the bible belt.

@kamikazeken: To each their own.