Thursday, May 14, 2009

Half A Century After "Two Cultures" - Has Anything Changed?

50 years after C.P. Snow's landmark book "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution", a 2-day symposium was held at Harvard to discuss the effects of the book and the state of the "two cultures" between Science and the Humanities.

So has anything changed since the book was first published? While I do see an easier access to information that each of the "culture" can access of the other, there is still a significant gap in terms of both sides understanding each other. But more importantly, despite the scientific and technological advances that are evident all around us, there appreciation and importance of science are still very much underrated with the general public. And I'm not referring to the scientific literacy either.

Many "cultural" issues seldom have scientific content. For example, when was the last time you see Oprah Winfrey pick a book with actual, VALID science content? She'll pick a book like "The Secret" that bastardizes physics, but what about a non-fiction that discusses fallacies and outright deceptions in our society that can be addressed via science? I would have loved for her to pick one of Bob Park's books, or even "Physics for Presidents", which would have been appropriate reading for her viewers during the presidential election.

So while science does gets its exposure now and then, the appreciation and understanding of it is still lagging in popular culture when compared to the humanities. So my answer to the question in the topic is : Not much.


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