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"Outbreak"/_Hot Zone_,etc.

Biology Department mowjmat at COOP.CRN.ORG
Wed Mar 15 10:21:40 EST 1995

Bio-net members
	Kathryn's message about the movie "Outbreak" and the book "Hot 
Zone" identifies an important role of popular media in sceitific 
education.  I am speaking from ignorace since I have not yet seen 
Outbreak nor habve I read completely "the Hot ZOne"--I, fortuanetly, was 
able to catch a National Public Radio Interview with Preston (the author 
of the book).  
	Kathryn's is correct in maintaining that popular media items are 
important to scientific education, especially for lay persons with little 
or no background in science.  As usual for Hollywood--the movie probably 
misrepresents the nature of science-but nevertheless, any public exposure 
to gene cloning, viruses, etc is benefical.
	Now to a criticism of Kathryn's comment--Kathryn is an ex-bio 
major and is a current senior undergrad.  THis status is quite different 
from the genral public.  People or her parents generation and the 
generation before do not have an extesnive general science education 
either formally or thorugh the media.  In the past few years, sicence 
fiction has turned to the more realistic ascpects of science--Michael 
Crichton for example has written on a number of subjects that have 
scientific ideas other than that of martians or Godzilla.
	The roel of the scientists is too clarify misconceptions and 
clearly epress scientific work in lay terms.  There is acondierable 
resistance agianst this idea, espeically in moelcular sciences where 
terminology is highly tedious.  However, all scientists are examining 
what is fuandamentally a very simple problem--By appealing to more 
fundamental goals, scientists can explain their hihgly technical world to 
the uninitiated.

Jeff Huckaby
Molecular Biology
William Jewell College
Liberty, MO 64068
Email mowjmat at coop.crn.org

On 14 Mar 1995, KAT wrote:

> I hope this post is reaching the bionet virology newsgroup.  If it is not, I
> apologize.
> As a representative of your "ignorant" general public, I would like to say the
> following.  I saw the movie "Outbreak", which prompted me to buy _Hot Zone_.  
> I can understand your criticism of the movie in the respect that it is
> Hollywood, all movies are.  The action  moves faster than is realistic, but
> that is necessary for a 2 hour movie.  Of course it is not to be taken
> completely literally, yet there are elements of truth as well.
> I do think however that the movie and book have value in that they might 
> prompt the average person to learn more about the subject of viruses and 
> virology.  I am now doing a paper on such viruses as ebola and hanta for a
> class on Disease through History.  
> Perhaps the average joe will not know as much as you people, but 
> using myself as an example (ex-bio major undergrad senior), I can say that it 
> fueled my interest to learn more.  And that is never a bad thing.
> It even prompted me to look up your pompous newsgroup, for what it was worth.
> Kathryn 

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