Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Edge...the third culture

Ever wonder why science is so important to our culture and yet so absent from popular discourse? In a recent NY Times list of 100 top books of 2007, for example, not a single science book. Here's a link to Edge a website that I drop in on from time to time just to see if I can learn something. An interesting feature on the website is called Edge Video where you can play video clips of interviews with leading scientists and thinkers. Going to this site usually reminds me in a very constructive and often stimulating way that people called scientists are among us doing science and talking about it.
The people at Edge refer to such people as the Third Culture. That phrase originates from the fifties when C.P. Snow wrote how the literary types had succeeded in co-opting for themselves the title of intellectual in the public mind. The science types were left as a result to communicate more or less exclusively amongst themselves. Public discourse found itself framed to a very large extent by an intellectual class that was not only not conversant with science but even willfully so.
The Third Culture refers to a movement within the science community to sidestep altogether the gate keeping function of the literary intellectual class and take their work and their ideas directly to the public. Some of my very good friends are sciencists and/or science lovers and I look forward always to picking up interesting ideas from them...this website is one way to extend that conversation.
Oh, and...Merry Christmas!


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