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Sex and drugs and… evidence-based reasoning?

February 18, 2011

I’ve written a post for the new Imperial College Science Communication website, Refractive Index, on a recent campaign to popularise scientists by photographing them with rock stars. This caused plenty of online comment (for example here, here and here) at the time. But I was interested in its historical context – and most of all in the large assumption at the heart of the campaign: that being likened to a celebrity somehow makes a scientist into “one of us”.

Now rock stars are many things – some of them great – but being just like everybody else is not exactly their raison d’etre. Their mystique comes from the fact that they’re totally unlike us. So when a scientist says “look at me! I’m just like a rock star!” – they’re actually saying (intentionally or not) “Look at me! I’m different to you – I’m exclusive!” Is this the basis upon which a genuine two-way dialogue between science and the public can take place? I mean, have you ever actually tried to talk to a rock star… particularly before 10am?

Check the post out here.

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