The Social Role of Popularized Science
Ross, Derek Gilbert
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In this thesis I will argue that popularized science books should adhere to normative criteria regarding the presentation, interpretation, and understanding of the natural sciences. The increasing popularity of popular science texts (PSTs) - based on sales, critical notice, and scholarly attention - indicates that they can function to interest and partially educate the lay public in scientific principals and practices. I will identify and analyze the narrative, rhetorical features of two popular science texts: Douglas Adams' Last Chance to See and Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams. These texts are selected based on a series of normative criteria, criteria constructed for the purpose of enhancing the public understanding of science. Additionally, these criteria are needed to help the lay public develop a proper appreciation of science. A proper appreciation of science, I argue, enables people to make better informed decisions regarding their own personal welfare and also that of the natural world. Finally, a proper appreciation of science, stimulated by PSTs, may help both scientists and the lay public reconceive the possibilities of narrative, public writing, and civic discourse.
- Masters Theses