Monday, June 26, 2006


Marketing Problem

Last week, RSR linked to an Op-Ed written by Mark Drapeau, a neuroscientist and geneticist at New York University who believes scientists must engage the public more forcefully on evolution.

Dr. Drapeau wrote a comment to RSR's post that we thought we'd pull out and post here so everyone could read it:

I am happy that my original Op-Ed and its re-post on Red State Rabble has spawned so much discussion. I have one brief point to make.

As a scientist who has studied evolution, of course I have a strong point of view on "the truth". However, I don't think the battle over ID, like the battles over other topics like global change or stem cell research, is a scientific problem -- It's a marketing problem.

While I cheer scientists like Dawkins and Gould for "popularizing" science and won't critique them directly, the reality is that only a small, unique subset of people read those books. They will tend to be intelligent, college-educated, interested in science, and want to read complex books in their spare time.

Honestly, how many people does this describe?

Priests, talk-radio hosts, local newspapers, and billboards reach 10 or 100 fold more people every day than do all of the popular science writers put together.

We cannot worry about the extremes - very pro-science and very anti-science or pro-god - but rather about the "soft middle" - people who might believe more in science if they heard more about it from convincing, interesting, and even entertaining sources. I am certain that more people could name Bill Nye the Science Guy than Richard Dawkins.

We have to realize what that means with regards to reaching the American people.Science needs an attractive, charismatic, highly intelligent, engaging spokesperson who can get on MSNBC or the Today Show and get people into controversial areas of science without being too much of a nerd about it. The question is, why don't we ever see scientists on mainstream tv?

Mark Drapeau

RSR has long thought that we need another Carl Sagan to step forward.


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