–by Marie Jung
The popularization of science may not be new, but there seems to be a growing trend towards improving scientific literacy among the general public. The revamping of Carl Sagan’s beloved Cosmos series really indicates the renewed interest in the natural world.
The most prominent changes, however, take place on the more everyday platforms that we all know and love. These Twitter and Instagram accounts come in a vast array of topics and informational levels. The continuum of content these social media outlets provide never fail to educate (or, at the very least, fascinate) the thousands of eager and curious consumers. Ranging from the oddly satisfying video clips from dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, aka @drpimplepopper, to the innovative designs fresh out of Harvard Medical School’s research labs (@harvardmed), these accounts are chock full of easy-to-consume, educational content.
On Twitter, popular science blog iflscience.com features bizarre science news on a platform conducive to sharing. Now, watching surgery videos and getting updates from large research universities generates more excitement than ever before. Best of all, it is presented in an aesthetically pleasing and simple manner. With these technological tools, more people have access into the realms of science and research.
That isn’t to say that the highly interested reader is left without depth of scientific literature. More so now than ever, bigger news outlets like Times and The Atlantic have feature articles on not only interesting, but relevant, advancements in health, medicine, and science. This is fairly representative of our postmodern world’s values of science and knowledge, and reflective of its search for truth.
However, it is important to note the dark side of such rapid communication of ideas. In a recent article from The Guardian, the dictatorial nature and lack of emotional appeal in articles from scientists can be attributed to isolation lay people feel from the scientific community. Furthermore, the highly unregulated forum of the Internet can breed widespread misinformation: a virus of its own kind.
Nonetheless, the Information Age prides itself on the vast interconnectedness and quick access to news the Internet brings. Used responsibly, social media and websites will be able to grow interest in and comprehension of science at an unprecedented rate. The emphasis on popularization of science can be seen as a celebration of contemporary values and the pursuit of knowledge.
—Marie Jung is an intern at Clinical Research Currents. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Marie is an undergraduate at UC Davis. She has a particular interest in the popularization of medicine/research in the media, with an emphasis on social media, which allows for a more vastly interconnected and interactive platform.