Monday, June 16, 2014

Why terrorism is good news for scientists

"... there is another cogent reason for the recent demise of the ‘mad’, evil scientist: decreased reliance on scientists to represent the feared ‘Other’ and provide the situations and objects of dread that inspire horror films. There are now alternative ‘competitors’ for that role: insane gunmen, religious fanatics, terrorists, extortionist companies, destroyers of the environment and passionate, violent adherents of many persuasions from animal rights to right-to-life protesters. Since 2001, we have learned to fear most the terrorism and fanaticism arising from political systems and fundamentalism and, underpinning them, the unpredictable madness of despotic or fanatical leaders. As before, the psychology of the unbalanced, evil mind is the real and abiding source of fear, but this is no longer attributed to scientists. The ‘popularity’ of the mad scientist as both fictional character and movie star has declined because we no longer need him. The new face of terror is the terrorist."

Roslynn D Haynes. Whatever happened to the ‘mad, bad’ scientist? Overturning the stereotype. Public Understanding of Science June 10, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0963662514535689

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