Public choosing science on PBS
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is living up to its name, and asking the public to choose what they want to see about science. On Wednesday nights at 8 PM in January, the channel is broadcasting pilot episodes from three different TV series about science, and asking the public to decide which program deserves its own series on PBS. We have three options: "Wired Science" adopts content from Wired magazine, "Science Investigators" answers a series of scientific questions
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is living up to its name, and asking the public to choose what they want to see about science. On Wednesday nights at 8 PM in January, the channel is broadcasting pilot episodes from three different TV series about science, and asking the public to decide which program deserves its own series on PBS. We have three options: "Wired Science" adopts content from Wired magazine, "Science Investigators" answers a series of scientific questions such as "What can DNA from a more than 30,000-year-old Neanderthal man tell us about ourselves?," and the pilot "22nd Century" explores how the world could work in the future.
This week, the channel broadcasted "Wired Science," which covered a range of topics stretching from space to the bottom of the ocean. With one hour at its disposal, the program adopts the slow, plodding pace typical of linkurl:public television;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/7943/, taking time to capture joking between reporters and scientists. Still, the show is inviting -- some of the reporters are considerably less-polished in look and tone than anything you see on network TV, but no less credible, which makes their material feel very accessible. Sometimes, the content is too accessible, and scientists will have to sit through some painful comparisons (such as embryonic stem cells acting like college freshmen who haven't picked a major -- ouch).
It's always refreshing to see democracy in action, even on a small scale. Anyone who doesn't have time to catch each episode during its normal timeslot of 8 PM on Wednesdays can linkurl:view each pilot;http://www.pbs.org/science/ and vote for your favorite online.
January 23, 2007
The science is no entertainment, period. I have seen over the years newspapers, popular magazines, tv shows and other media presenting things often on irrational basis. Programs are presented depending on their e-value. This is no science. It will not help in developing a scientific attitude, it will not help educating public in scientific advancements either. Briefly, the presentations should be in a scientific manner.\nEditors' choice is a good thing. Asking people to know what they want is like chosing to see one from a movie list. This will lead to lopsided knowledge. May prove often harmful than good.
January 25, 2007
Dr. Nikhra's attitude toward communicating science to the public is all too typical of many scientists, and is an important reason for the appaling level of scientific illiteracy in the supposedly "developed" nations of the world. The problems caused by occasional news media misinterpretation or misreporting of research are far outweighed by the problems of scientific illiteracy and neo-luddism. Unless science is presented in public forums as exciting, entertaining, and -- most important -- relevant to the life of average citizens, those citizens will have no reason to pay attention to or educate themselves about scientific issues and advancements. Many, if not most, people will continue to hold irrational -- or at best, non-commital -- attitudes toward such issues as stem-cell research, global warming, and bioengineering, not to mention such basic research areas as high-energy physics, fusion and astrophysics. PBS does a great service to both science and the public interest by working to make science entertaining, interesting and relevant. The best way to do that is to discern the interests of the viewing audience and develop thoughtful programming, with the right amount of scientific input, that matches those interests.
February 4, 2007
Dr. Vinod Nikhra, science is not entertainment, OK. But surely even you can acknowledge what scientists like Carl Sagan did for the rest of us non-scientists. He brought a very complex science that, until he came along, was closed to most of us. He brought it down to earth for the rest of us to wonder about. He made it understandable and accessible.\n\nAnd according to you, this is a bad thing?\n\nI hope you're not a teacher.