Popular science

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This article is about popular science as a literary genre. For the magazine, see Popular Science. For the short film series, see Popular Science (film).
An image from the March 1883 issue of Popular Science Monthly. The article from this issue is called "Queer Phases of Animal Life", and the image is captioned "Total depravity."

Popular science (or pop-science) is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is more broad-ranging. It may be written by professional science journalists or by scientists themselves. It is presented in many forms, including books, film and television documentaries, magazine articles, and web pages.

Role[edit]

Popular science is a bridge between scientific literature as a professional medium of scientific research, and the realms of popular political and cultural discourse. The goal of the genre is often to capture the methods and accuracy of science, while making the language more accessible. Many science-related controversies are discussed in popular science books and publications, such as the long-running debates over biological determinism and the biological components of intelligence, stirred by popular books such as The Mismeasure of Man and The Bell Curve.[1]

The purpose of scientific literature is to inform and persuade peers as to the validity of observations and conclusions and the forensic efficacy of methods. Popular science attempts to inform and convince scientific outsiders (sometimes along with scientists in other fields) of the significance of data and conclusions and to celebrate the results. Statements in scientific literature are often qualified and tentative, emphasizing that new observations and results are consistent with and similar to established knowledge wherein qualified scientists are assumed to recognize the relevance. By contrast, popular science emphasizes uniqueness and generality, taking a tone of factual authority absent from the scientific literature. Comparisons between original scientific reports, derivative science journalism and popular science typically reveal at least some level of distortion and oversimplification which can often be quite dramatic, even with politically neutral scientific topics.[2]

Popular science literature can be written by non-scientists who may have a limited understanding of the subject they are interpreting and it can be difficult for non-experts to identify misleading popular science, which may also blur the boundaries between formal science and pseudoscience.

Common threads[edit]

Some usual features[by whom?] of popular science productions include:

  • Entertainment value or personal relevance to the audience
  • Emphasis on uniqueness and radicalness
  • Exploring ideas overlooked by specialists or falling outside of established disciplines
  • Generalized, simplified science concepts
  • Presented for an audience with little or no science background, hence explaining general concepts more thoroughly
  • Synthesis of new ideas that cross multiple fields and offer new applications in other academic specialties
  • Use of metaphors and analogies to explain difficult or abstract scientific concepts

Notable English-language popularizers of science[edit]

In alphabetical order by last name:

Some sources of popular science[edit]

Science media[edit]

Science in the headlines

News on-line[edit]

News agencies:

Press[edit]

Daily newspapers

Weeklies

Fortnightlies

Monthlies

Bimonthlies

Related[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Murdz William McRae, "Introduction: Science in Culture" in The Literature of Science, pp. 1–3, 10–11
  2. ^ Jeanne Fahnestock, "Accommodating Science: The Rhetorical Life of Scientific Facts" in The Literature of Science, pp. 17–36
  3. ^ http://www.centerforcommunicatingscience.org/
  4. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2008). The Oxford book of modern science writing. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-19-921680-0. 
  5. ^ Editorial (October 1987). "Peter Medawar (obituary)". New Scientist 116 (1581): 16. 
  6. ^ "Pharyngula". Scienceblogs.com. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  7. ^ "The Loom". Blogs.discovermagazine.com. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  8. ^ "ABC Science". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  9. ^ "Best Science Writing Online 2012". Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  10. ^ "BBC Nature". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  11. ^ "BBC Science". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  12. ^ "BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  13. ^ "CASW". Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  14. ^ "Science & Technology". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  15. ^ "60 Minutes: Health & Science". Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  16. ^ "60 Minutes: Nature". Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  17. ^ "This Morning: HealthWatch". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  18. ^ "Evening News: Health". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  19. ^ "Sunday Morning: Nature". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  20. ^ "Discovery Radio Programme". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  21. ^ "Discovery Podcasts". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  22. ^ "Inside Science". Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  23. ^ "Inside Science (AIP)". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  24. ^ "ITV Science News". Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  25. ^ "Leading Edge". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  26. ^ "The Life Scientific". Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  27. ^ "MITnews:science". Retrieved 2013-07-07. 
  28. ^ "Nature online"
  29. ^ "NBC Science". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  30. ^ "NBC Technology". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  31. ^ "NBC Health". Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  32. ^ "Behind the Headlines ¬ Your guide to the science that makes the news"
  33. ^ "PBS Science & Nature". Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  34. ^ "PBS NewsHour: Science". Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  35. ^ "Nova: science in the news". Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  36. ^ "PopularScience.co.uk". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  37. ^ "Pop Science Books". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  38. ^ "CBCnews Technology & Science". Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  39. ^ "The Ri Channel". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  40. ^ "Science Fantastic with Michio Kaku News/Audio/Video/About/Listen Live". Talk Radio Network. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  41. ^ "NPR Science". Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  42. ^ "The Science Hour". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  43. ^ "The Science Hour Podcasts". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  44. ^ "Online Science"
  45. ^ "Science Niblets". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  46. ^ "Science & Technology News – Latest in scientific breakthroughs and gadgets – VOA News". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  47. ^ "Science World". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  48. ^ "WIRED Science". Retrieved 2013-07-17. 
  49. ^ "WIRED Science article list". Retrieved 2013-07-17. 
  50. ^ "WIRED Science Blogs". Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  51. ^ "WIRED UK Science". Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  52. ^ "Latest News from Science"
  53. ^ "CitizenSci". Retrieved 2013-03-01. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • McRae, Murdo William (editor). The Literature of Science: Perspectives on Popular Scientific Writing. The University of Georgia Press: Athens, 1993. ISBN 0-8203-1506-0

External links[edit]