Perception of Science in Society

I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. AndI look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.   John F. Kennedy October 26, 1963

I might say the same would be true for science (not medical prowess) as well. But, why should we care about how we are perceived? Do I want to be treated like a rock star? (nope, not now).  And of course there are the rock star scientists, all of whom get bit gigs on The Big Bang Theory (now, I wouldn’t turn down a guest appearance there).

I care about the perception of science because that perception (which includes salaries) is a marker, a sign of something else: what society believes in. What is important. What matters. It is fine to laud our performers, be they sports stars or rock stars. No, I am probably not as good a scientist as Joe Flacco is quarterback. But more people know the name of the 2nd string Ravens quarterback (Tyrod Taylor), than know the name of the arguably best scientist at Johns Hopkins (Nobel Prize winner Carol Greider). In the end which will have a bigger impact on the world?

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