mad scientist
Mad Science

Oscar Handlin argues that scientists have always been seekers of unsanctioned knowledge. While technology is viewed as relatively benign (i.e., learning to use a horse collar does not push one to question his or her beliefs in a divine authority), science, throughout its history, drags people away from the comfortable folk teachings that undergird society. Because of this, scientists are and always have been painted as radicals, heretics, and outcasts whose business is to go where man ought not to tread. This perception is captured in legendary figures such as Faust and, in 19th century literature, in characters like Victor Frankenstein. With the invention of the motion picture, our culture has found new means of expressing this nervousness regarding what scientists are up to in their castle laboratories.
Presumably, scientists occasionally go to the movies. Though scientific literacy among the public appears to be shrinking, science and scientists remain a common subject of film and television. Sometimes they are quirky and funny (Back to the Future, The Nutty Professor); at others, they are monster-makers, figures who push human knowledge too far (Metropolis, Jurassic Park). Explore the tradition of the scientist in film. Are film and television improving the popular image of the scientists, or do they only add to the public’s fear and mistrust of science?

JSTOR Articles - If you’ve never accessed the JSTOR archives before and need help, librarians at the reference desk in Cooper should be able to show you the ropes. Access requires that you be on the Clemson network or that you provide your login info.

Christopher Tourney, The Moral Character of Mad Scientists: A Cultural Critique of Science (JSTOR)

Oscar Handlin, Science & Technology in Popular Culture (JSTOR)

Theodore Roszak, The Monster and the Titan: Science, Knowledge, and Gnosis (JSTOR)

Amitai Etzioni, From “Jaws”: A Lovable Scientist (JSTOR)

Here’s an address given by Michael Crichton (writer of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park) to the AAAS.
Michael Crichton, Why Science is Media-Dumb

This NSF page outlines some of the results from Margaret Mead’s 1957 survey of schoolchildren concerning what they pictured when they thought of where, how, and by who science was conducted.
National Science Foundation, Science and Technology:  Public Attitudes and Public Understanding

Alan Boyle, Why We’re Mad About Mad Scientists (MSNBC)

Adam Ruben, Experimental Error: Don’t Try This At Home (Science)

John Matson, Worries about LHC black holes resurface (Scientific American)

BB Content - PDF Scans of these two resources are available under the BB site for this course (Course Home Page/Control Panel/Content Collection/Science & Film)
Christopher Frayling, Mad, Bad, and Dangerous?: The Scientist and the Cinema (Ch. 1)
Stephen Jay Gould, Review: Jurassic Park