More on scientists in GQ

In my last Double X blog post, I wrote about the Rock Stars of Science campaign. Dr. Isis has a different take:

The point of the campaign is to show people that science is hip, and cool, and sexy, and [insert other adjective here], but in each shot the scientists are fawning over the musicians.  The message this photo campaign sends is, “Yeah, being a scientist cool but, if I could be, I would really want to be [insert rock star name here].”  Thus, people looking at this campaign aspire to also be rockstars.  Not scientists.

And (via Isis), Bora scooped GQ back in 2006:

In this day of mass communications, it is logical to use modern technology to further your aims, so popularization of science should do the same. Turning some scientists into radio personalities, talk-show hosts, TV stars, movie stars and Internet stars (MySpace and blogs, for instance) should be a part of a multi-prong strategy to spread the scientific reasoning and rationality, as well as excitement for knowledge about the natural world.

What do you think? Could scientists become as famous as rockstars (and get featured in US Weekly – “Scientists! They’re Just Like Us!”)? Will this help change the perception of scientists as boring and science as a high-status but low-income career path? And frankly, do we actually need more scientists when there’s few decent jobs for the PhDs that we already have?


5 Responses to More on scientists in GQ

  1. Kate says:

    If science becomes popular and cool, it could open up new jobs. Of course it could open up jobs in academia, but just think what new companies could form, what new funding would come out, if the population really thought science was as cool as… say… football… or Paris Hilton.

  2. Zen Faulkes says:

    Having scientists become as famous as a contemporary rock star may not be all that hard, because rock stars are not as famous as they used to be. (I can’t think of any musicians who started in the last 10 years who are anywhere close to the rock star status of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, etc.)

    But how many scientists would want to be like rock stars? Many musicians just want to make art that excites them and don’t necessarily want the intense scrutiny that comes from international fame. Many scientists just want to answer questions that excite them and wouldn’t want that level of attention.

    As for whether we need more scientists, emphatically yes. Whether we need more people with doctorates is a totally separate question, and I’m not sure of the answer. Don’t confuse careers with credentials.

  3. Sergio says:

    So you’re saying that the CEO of IAG is lonkoig forward to Global Warming because rising premiums will increase his net worth and the value of shares? Could it not simply be that he’s a nice person who wants to do what he believes is the right thing. Much like me, and everyone attached to the youCan2 project. Please tell me you read the article, before you criticised his point of view!Science is rarely unanimous. We often can only go on a best guess. However, for every debate we now have on climate change’s legitimacy we waste valuable time. The debate I believe we should be having: what is the best way to deal with it.Dealing with climate change, for me, represents the very best in man-(and woman-)kind. Nations united around a common goal is what the world needs right now. We are divided in so many ways, and yet we all inhabit this little blue dot.We have already conquered so many global problems, and we will overcome this one. The price is miniscule (1% of GDP was a figure quote in The Stern Report). The technology is already available, and continues to emerge and develop in new and exciting ways. There seems to be little financial cost to respond to this challenge, so why not work together on this?And that is my final point. I believe the world is getting warmer. I made the choice to believe this based on my research. I decided I wanted to contribute to the solution, not by inciting “hysteria”, but by creating a series of ads that suggest simple things we can all do.We have been debating Climate Change for some time, in Australia and all around the world. Because of the nature of the issue, there needs to come a point where we decided either “it’s probably true” or “it’s probably not true” (WMDs, anyone?!). After making that decision we should take the appropriate action. The debate has now taken two decades. The majority, though not all, of informed people who take a stance seem to think the world is getting warmer and that’s not a good thing. If this were a general election, they would have won in a landslide! Is it not time to count the votes, see which side won, and then talk about the action? Or should we keep deating this forever?

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