PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Scientists in film and fiction

Ros Haynes  

Surveys of public attitudes to science and scientists indicate that scientists are seen in highly stereotyped forms, most of them unfavourable. A major factor in the creation of these images is the literary tradition, and more recently, films - the way scientists have been presented as characters from the medieval alchemists to the computer experts and physicists of contemporary literature. These depictions have not only reflected the writer’s opinions of science and contemporary scientists, but have, in turn, influenced society’s image of the scientist and the public response to science itself. Five major stereotypes have recurred with varying frequency, and the origin and significance of these will be discussed, together with the effect which they have had on contemporary attitudes to science.

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