Transgressing the limits

Dene Grigar, a professor of digital technology and culture, describes narratives of scientists in popular literature

Dene Grigar
Aug 2, 2006
Mad, deluded, and downright evil -- these are but a few of the negative characteristics associated with scientists in popular culture. From Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Margaret Atwood's Crake, scientists have endured reputations best described as at odds with the humanity they serve. But what really lies at the core of such views?To answer this question, we must look beyond conventional wisdom. In The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, for example, John Clute and Peter Nicholls link the image of the scientist to a distrust of science and technology. While this approach provides a good starting point, it offers only a partial story. The answer is actually found at a more fundamental level -- that is, humankind's ambivalence toward knowledge and the limits we feel that we must set in our pursuit of it. Many of us are well aware that the push for science to concern itself with...

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