2 thoughts on “(Re)presenting Science: From "Red Blobs" to Open-Handed Face Slaps

  1. I'm not sure I agree.

    Firstly, scientists use images and words to represent reality – it is understood that these images are NOT reality. If I choose to represent an atom by a blob, why not? If I choose for my atoms to be like small monkeys, would there be any difference? We actually don’t know what they look like.

    Secondly, you seem to favour entertainment (party) rather than understanding. Do we have to pander to popular tastes to encourage people to come to science? I'm not so sure this is the right way.

    Thirdly, I was not away that science was considered so very serious and sombre. Who built this image? Not the scientist, I'm sure.

    Hence I don't agree with your conclusion… Sorry…

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for reading. I think you're right to point out the importance of maintaining a balance between mere entertainment and understanding. The point I was hoping to make was that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Even during my science education I had profs who seemed to think that making physics "fun" amounted to "dumbing it down".

      The profs who tried to make science fun basically took Sagan's approach: they would use, say, little balls in collisions to demonstrate how exciting dynamics could be. The science was meant to be engaging in itself. There was certainly no anthropomorphization, nor was there a narrative in their demonstrations like that in the Chemical Party video, which I love.

      I think the two-part mistake is, first, assuming that popularizing science amounts to "dumbing it down", and second that a popularized science can't convey scientific truths.

      Hope you keep reading!

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