The Media is Not The Bad Guy: Pseudoscience and Fantasy in Mass Media

“Society is constantly and relentlessly bombarded with media presentations of pseudoscience, fantasy and the paranormal.”

As a future media professional, this quote troubled me. Frankly, any quote that questions “the media” troubles me because in this age of technology (which science created) everyone is the media. We are all contributing to online conversation, if not creating it, and constantly putting information out there for the world. There is no longer a media with gatekeepers that control what information is shared or distributed to the public. The public is now in control, and the public likes to look at science imaginatively.

There is an eerily similar parallel between this quote’s view of media and science of the 19th century’s view of religion. It’s almost as if as technology continues to grow, society is shifting from blaming science for the downfall of religion to blaming technology for the downfall of science. This is interesting since when the debate between science and religion began, they were viewed by most to intermix; the same is true for science and technology right now, but the two seem to be colliding more and more.

In regards to science and fantasy, this quote is especially bothersome to me. Yes, society is continually “bombarded” by fantasy and science fiction, but a lot of the time, normal people that would not ordinarily be called “the media” are the ones creating these pieces of scientific popular culture. Take fan fiction for example. It is exactly what its title suggests: fiction created by fans. The stories are dominated by science fiction and fantasy genre-based stories such as Doctor Who and Harry Potter. People love the amount of imagination that can be explored in these science-based stories, and since we are the media in this technology-driven generation, there is no politically driven “media” to speak of that is ruining the sanctity of science as this quote suggests.

I think that it is important to preserve pseudoscience, fantasy and the paranormal because it provides a way to keep imagination flowing. As we discover more cold, hard facts through science, imagination will be killed off if there is not a way to express it. Science just happens to be so vast with possibilility that people find it to be a spring of inspiration. For this reason, I encourage people to continue to tweet, post, reblog, like, favorite, and subscribe to media outlets that revolve around science-based fantasy, because without this, imagination will become a thing of the past.

Comment Stream

2 years ago
0

I agree. It's impossible to avoid the media (literally...it's everywhere). The people who complain about the media are only supporting it in that they are giving it the attention that it wants. We are the media, and we have control over what is and what isn't. If we (and by we I mean everyone...which is probably impossible) stop using something, it will become obsolete. We are in control, and we have the power to manipulate this "fantasy".

2 years ago
0

I love how you both are seeing "the media" as something not foreign to you but something you participate in and create -- I think this is a very big shift that the internet as a communication space has made more possible. About ten years ago the journalist Jay Rosen coined the phrase "the people formerly known as the audience", which is exactly what you are talking about. Fan fiction existed before the Internet, but it has exploded on it, now that the tools for creation and publishing exist for anyone Here's a link to his article: http://archive.pressthink.org/2006/06/27/ppl_frmr.html

Open in New Window
2 years ago
0

I completely agree. We who were once the audience are now part of the media. Everyday when I watch the news, a more traditional form of the media, they have some story about a Facebook post, or a tweet, or some blog article. It has come to the point that the everyday person has a much influence on the media as a news person or journalist.

2 years ago
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@profkatherinepandora I actually used that article in a research paper last year! It's very interesting.

2 years ago
0

excellent! yes, I think it is a really important turn of events, and one that us scholars are only beginning to get used to -- we have had easier access to the tools of publication, for example, and are not used to thinking of the general "public" as being able to create and share and to do so in even a wider space than we have had! There is so much we could be doing "out there", online, not just assuming that they need to listen to us, but we can listen and learn from others!

Plus, I am just astonished at the generosity and ethic of sharing that exists in fandoms that produce fanfic...I know that there are arguments and divisiveness that occurs as well, but the creativity and feeding off of each others' efforts to explore is quite stunning, to me...