Tom Jacobs in his Pacific Standard article, How We Really See Scientists, gives us an insight into how Americans see scientists.
We think of scientists as trustworthy on the whole, but also robotic and emotionless in nature. In addition, some of us — especially social conservatives — view them as prone to ignoring important ethical norms.
I am both disappointed and not shocked at the same time. From more recent examples like Chuck Lorre’s Sheldon from Big Bang Theory to Carl Sagan’s Ellie Arroway from Contact, scientists are not portrayed as normal people and are seen as lacking the balance of a developed emotional IQ.
Jacobs continues this by describing how scientists could also be seen as amoral.
The results revealed that scientists are perceived as more likely than members of other groups to commit certain, but not all, moral transgressions. Specifically, they were viewed as more likely to engage in serial murder, incest, and necrobestiality, but not more likely to cheat or abuse others.
As an educator and parent, I think it is important that we address incorrect stereotypes and help support an image of science and scientists that helps create a society that supports and values scientists rather than fearing and mocking them. As a former scientist, (do you really ever stop being a scientist?) I found that a strong foundation in logical reasoning has actually enhanced my abilities to lead. Or since I’m a disciple of the emotionless and amoral tribe of science, can I be trusted?