Popular culture affects everyone who is in contact with it. It not only affects our lifestyle choices but also plays a role in shaping our opinions when it comes to the important issues in our society, one of them being science. Science takes a hit when it comes to credibility due to the inaccuracies that are allowed to be mainstreamed by the media.
Most people in today’s society get their share of scientific information through pop culture which includes television, books, the news media, internet and more. Popular culture in many ways plays a larger role in shaping public opinions regarding science more than formal scientific means themselves. Science is not a topic which initially interests a lot of people so they rely on the eye catching and over simplified explanations of scientific work available to them in the daily media, which in many cases leaves out important details. One of the few examples I witness myself on a daily basis is on these TV shows on news networks such as the O’ Reilly Factor and the Glenn Beck Show. These shows barrage their audiences with false information and misrepresentation of scientific theories. While talking about Evolution on the Glenn Beck show, author Ben Stein says, “…When I talk to people who are Evolutionists or Darwinists and say, well how did life begin? They don’t have an answer…” (YouTube 3:34). Ben Stein isn’t even aware of the fact that Evolution is not a theory which tries to claim to know answer to the question regarding how life began. It only answers questions regarding how life changed on the earth over the course of time. To the average person watching that show on Fox News his quote would seem like a really convincing argument against Evolution but in reality the viewers simply got taken advantage of the fact that they associated Ben Stein being on a news channel on TV to being credible when it comes to scientific matters. People put their trust in news organizations because they are viewed by millions of people as well therefore it is easy to assume they will provide reliable information.
Stem Cell research is also another field where inaccuracies are allowed to be spread across the masses. If most people knew the cells used for this research come from an embryo which is only three to five days matured from the moment of fertilization they might not be so horrendously offended by these methods. When I used to think about stem cell research myself not too long ago, an image of a 6 month developed baby fetus being used for the research was the first thing I associated with stem cell research. I had to research on this issue myself outside of what I had been made to assume by the media for many years to understand the techniques that are actually used in this field.
Since a lot of us are exposed to this misrepresentation of scientific work in our daily culture, government policies are also affected in regards to making decisions on these subjects because the politicians want to keep the public calm. Government polices that that are made on the basis of misunderstanding is never the way to go. Scientists would really appreciate to have their work be portrayed accurately to the masses in pop culture because they are confident that better informed people will make better decisions regarding important scientific issues.