The 2018 movie catalog of the streaming service Netflix offers an entire film category entitled “Science Gone Wrong”. Why are scientists so often depicted in television and movies as evil or short-sighted? The alternative is not much better; a stereotypical representation as absentminded and ineffective at leadership. Is Michael Crichton entirely to blame or were the seeds of mistrust of science planted in the cinema long ago? Which films portray scientists in a positive way? At a time when mistrust of science is evident at the national level, the question of how the media treats scientists is relevant. This seminar will examine how science is represented in selected films and television. We will then explore actual instances in which scientists have unleashed disaster and how they have helped avoid disasters. Finally, do perceptions and stereotypes promoted by the media influence the diminishing role of science in political debate and policy-making?
Instructor: Jim Dawson
Category: Science, Tech, & Data, Media & Current Events, Policy, Culture, & Society