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Evil & Heroic Scientists in TV and Film

Matthew Nisbet at Framing Science writes that, contrary to "conventional wisdom that entertainment media portray science and scientists in a negative light," research has shown that scientists are equally portrayed positively and negatively in television, film, and other media. Further, "more recent research even suggests that in contemporary entertainment media, scientists are portrayed in an almost exclusively positive light and often as heroes," he writes. In 2002, Nisbet and his colleagues published a paper in which they "highlighted several different clusters of images" based upon public perceptions as scientists, including scientists as "Dr. Frankenstein," scientists as "powerless pawns," researchers as "eccentric and anti-social geeks," and scientists as heroes. The Dr. Frankenstein-like scientist, he writes, is the stereotype that "scientists most frequently single out," because it portrays their "profession as sinister, socially irresponsible, evil and violent," among other things. At the other end of the spectrum, scientists as heroes are often the protagonists, "serving as the voice and force for ethical decisions and virtue," Nisbet writes.

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