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I have read and reread the materials and I am still at a loss for how to approach the subject because I have this problem with having to say what I really think. To the best of my knowledge NASA/Space Science is the only one of these programs that really led to the popularization of science but NASA’s hay-day passed a long time ago, crashing with the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
I would say for most of my life there has been a culture of anything “big” (banks, government, business, pharma, religion) is automatically suspicious and labeled with words like corrupt, wasteful, and inefficient. Publicly funded comes with lots of challenges and tension, especially when so many are having are hard time just getting by. Science brings as much fear as it does potential and progress. The Manhattan project brought us the possibility of self-annihilation. In spite of all the good possible through the human genome project, it had caused fears about genetic discrimination, cloning, designer babies, privacy issues, etc. What little hope I remember about the super collider ended with the loss of funding for the project in America.
The rock star astronaut iconography of the past has been replaced with the science nerd. A normal part of human development in young people is to want to be accepted by their peers, being a nerd and getting acceptance from peers just doesn’t go together. This sets a bad stage for the future of the popularity of science. So, for there to be a (re)-popularization of science, we are going to have to overcome the challenges of fear, economics and negative stereotypes.
It has not been talked about much in here but there are large swaths of Americans who have basically rejected science. There are the creationists, climate change deniers, anti-vaxers, the organic food movement, environmentalist that want to get back to a more natural state and an endless amount of religious conflicts for one reason or another. Maybe if I lived in silicon-valley, I might see things differently but from my perspective science has a long row to hoe to get to popularity in the general population.