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Science and the Public Sphere: General :: Aspen Ideas Festival: Science & the Public Sphere

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Science and the Public Sphere: General :: Aspen Ideas Festival: Science & the Public Sphere


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Author: Topic: Aspen Ideas Festival: Science & the Public Sphere
 admin
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Last edited by: admin on Feb 11, 2008 9:35:31 pm
Posted: Feb 02, 2008 7:41:24 am    
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Watch a debate among Carolyn Porco, Jim Lehrer, Walter Isaacson, Michael Lemonick, Robert Krulwich, Michael Turner, Shirley Jackson, and Lawrence Krauss at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Aspen Institute, July 3, 2007.  (Watch the Full Program at  fora.tv/2007/07/03/Science_and_the_Public_Sphere)

 

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 tambo
 

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Posted: Feb 12, 2008 2:00:12 pm    
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I nneed to watch the whole thing, But what you said Carolyn about Mr. Sagan I think is true. Many folks and I mean true amature astronomers like myself, look up to Carl Sagan and fondly remember his out reach through his show.

 

Shoot for the moon and dont worry if you miss because you will wind up in the Stars!
 CarolynPorco
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Posted: Feb 12, 2008 4:48:46 pm    
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I was pleased in this debate to be able to point out to everyone that going after the print media is not the source of our problem.  Most people get their news from TV, and so their view of science and the role it plays in our lives comes largely from that route.  And the TV media folks, with the exception of Lehrer who seems to be making a genuine attempt to inject some science angle into his stories, are the problem.  I've worked with Miles O'Brien at CNN, and he seems to have a more and more difficult time selling science stories to CNN.

BUT....if the public made an outcry about this, and complained about the lack of science programming, I believe it could change.

So, who's ready to start a revolution?

 

Carolyn Porco
 RomanticRationalist
 

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Posted: Feb 25, 2008 3:08:05 am    
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As a student member or the National Association of Science Writers, I agree with Dr. Porco (as a military veteran, formality born of respect for achievement is a hard habit to break). Television news is the largest part of the problem.  The worst nightmares of Edward R. Murrow regarding the dumbing down of the public discourse via the broadcast media have come to pass. 

Unfortunately, the "he said, she said" school of journalism that originated in the broadcast media has also infected the print media through the mergers of media outlets arising from de-regulation. What, exactly, it will take to turn the tide, I am not sure. With Richard Dawkins phrase, "consciousness raising," in mind, I take hope in the fact that two of our ablest communicators of science for the public are Dr. Porco (female, of course) and Dr. Neil De Grasse Tyson (African-American). Such developments are long overdue.

 

K. Mark Northrup
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 DaveGallagher
 

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Posted: Mar 18, 2008 2:23:31 pm    
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The Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its report on the State of the News Media 2008.  A look at the tables on the 2nd page tells us a lot about where science stands in comparison to other topics of interest.

If Anna Nicole Smith had been an Iranian physicist trying to enter the country, sponsored by a presidential candidate,  to take work away from an American when her plane blew up, then science may have made it to 1% on cable news.

We can encourage Jim Lehrer and his News Hour to continue their coverage, but I can't see us easily persuading Shepard Smith or Anderson Cooper to change their focus by direct assault, as our message would be lost in the noise.  Perhaps our best hope is in getting science stories onto the wires, where they would be picked up by the outlets.  How to pull that off I do not know.

 

Dave Gallagher
 CarolynPorco
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Posted: Apr 04, 2008 1:16:05 am    
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Dave:

Sorry to take so long replying, and thanks for calling my attention to that posting about the State of the News Media.

Yes, the regular news shows -- network and even cable, with the exception of Jim Lehrer who, as you saw in that Aspen video, is consciously trying to make an effort -- are in a sorry state when it comes to science.  I was on the verge myself of starting to work with Miles O'Brien:  we were considering a regular but, to begin with, not too frequent spot for me to do science on his Saturday show called Next at CNN (I believe).  But as soon as those discussions began, that show which had been on the air for 25 years was canceled.  Talk about bad timing.  And he has had a hard time getting science into CNN programming or news, with the exception of Shuttle launches.

So, we can't rely on the major news networks unfortunately.  UNLESS...a great many people start complaining about news programming as it currently exists.  Otherwise, we have to come up with alternative solutions.

 

Carolyn Porco
 Mike Turney
 

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Posted: Apr 06, 2008 7:46:03 pm    
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O.K. I'll go out on a long limb here.....saw in hand. If we go beyond straight science and touch people in more meaningful and compelling ways, they'll realize their innate and natural connection to the universe. They will revel in it, the science the wonder, the possibilities. So here it is...ALLOW RELIGION INTO SCIENCE

Oh, my God....

Make it personal. Allow persons to include (the possibility of) 'God' in their exploration of the Cosmos.

The PRACTICE of science can remain the same but the appreciation for it and involvement with it, just received a mighty boost.

I understand Carolyn does a fantastic job of injecting the spiritual into her science presentations and writings. I applaud her tremendously for this.  I'm referring to ramping it up a bit. Referring to the spiritual by name, God?

Yea, I know, sacrilegious, crazy.  But think about it.

Sky's the Limit,

Mike

 

 CarolynPorco
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Posted: Apr 11, 2008 3:52:31 pm    
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Mike: 

You are indeed correct that making the practice of science and its benefits personally meaningful to people is what is needed.  Did you see the full webcast of the panel discussion that is the subject of this thread?  I even make this point in that discussion.  And I didn't mean drawing a connection between science and, say, the price of gasoline (though you can do that too).  I meant the aspect of feeling connected to the greater world, the cosmos, that we can derive from the fruits of scientific inquiry, which is what the idea of `God' (or at least some usages of the concept of God) does for people.

And, I believe people can be drawn to this connection without mentioning the word God.

Also, God means many different things.  I wouldn't want to confuse what we have found about our cosmic place with the concept of God.  It's more clarity we need, not more ambiguity.

Finally, I personally would be dishonest to suggest that people will be able to find `God' by understanding science.  What they would find if they took a look is something so profoundly beautiful that I believe they wouldn't require `God'.  To stand in awe of the universe of intricacies that underlies everything we see is all the religiosity we need.

My two cents.

 

Carolyn Porco
 Mike Turney
 

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Posted: Apr 16, 2008 12:15:08 am    
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Carolyn, enjoyed and appreciated your comments. Was hoping there might be more participation in this thread but so far not to be. Risky waters….

No, I never was able to view the entire clip at Aspen though I surely wanted to.

The majority of people on earth believe in a higher power, a God of some sorts. And because we are discussing ways to bring the general public more into the fold of science we are talking about people who believe in ‘God’. I’m saying if the presentation of science were to better accommodate people who believed in God then science would benefit. It will benefit because these people will support it by reveling in the unmasking of (scientific) truths.  This relentless peeling back layer after layer seeking out the source. The detailed, careful and self-correcting process of scientific inquiry need not change.

Your point of God meaning many different things to different people is indeed true. I would suggest however that it be left that way. It would serve no positive purpose to be specific.

I am not suggesting scientists deliver religious sermons when they present science to convert non-believers into believing in God.  I’m suggesting they simply leave open and even include the possibility that God exists to the masses of people who believe it to be true.

And you know what, they could be right.

Mike

 

 DaveGallagher
 

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Posted: Apr 17, 2008 4:56:28 pm    
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Mike,

I may be missing something, but I don't see the problem you're describing. Science is open to all and is usually presented as such.  I don't know how scientific presentations could better accommodate religious beliefs. 

A presenter who blends religious or atheistic beliefs into the material is guilty of digression.  I am not a scientist by trade, but among other things I deliver classes and presentations in computer programming.  My students are not put off by the fact that the subject of God never comes up (except perhaps under my breath and in vain), and I would not expect them to see a connection between my beliefs (or lack thereof) and the subject at hand.  This should apply in scientific presentations as well.

 

Dave Gallagher
 Mike Turney
 

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Posted: Apr 19, 2008 7:28:10 pm    
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Dave, Thanks for jumping in!

It’s always difficult to see oneself as others see you. The science community has a reputation with the public for excluding God.  And in recent years the acrimony between religion and science has only driven the wedge deeper. Consequently, both science and religion have become quite defensive concerning their positions. This divisiveness has done nothing to promote the assets of science to the public at large.

The analogy you use regarding classroom presentations of computer programming I think is quite different from the practice of presenting astronomy and cosmology to the general public. It’s different because regarding astronomy/cosmology we are also directly seeking out our own origins, the source of human beings. This by its very nature becomes a spiritual and religious endeavor and speaks directly to the deep connection people innately feel.  If the science community were to openly acknowledge and even market this feeling of connection, including the ‘possibility’ of God, wouldn’t it dramatically increase interest in science?

Mike

 


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