The Enduring Influence of a Dangerous Narrative: How Scientists Can Mitigate the Frankenstein Myth

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 15 (2):279-292 (2018)
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Reflecting the dangers of irresponsible science and technology, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein quickly became a mythic story that still feels fresh and relevant in the twenty-first century. The unique framework of the Frankenstein myth has permeated the public discourse about science and knowledge, creating various misconceptions around and negative expectations for scientists and for scientific enterprises more generally. Using the Frankenstein myth as an imaginative tool, we interviewed twelve scientists to explore how this science narrative shapes their views and perceptions of science. Our results yielded two main conclusions. First, the Frankenstein myth may help scientists identify popular concerns about their work and offer a framework for constructing a more positive narrative. Second, finding optimistic science narratives may allow scientists to build a better relationship with the public. We argue that by showing the ethical principles and social dimensions of their work, scientists could replace a negative Frankenstein narrative with a more optimistic one.



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References found in this work

Narrative identity.Dan P. McAdams - 2011 - In Seth J. Schwartz, Koen Luyckx & Vivian L. Vignoles (eds.), Handbook of Identity Theory and Research. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 99--115.
Scientific Research and the Public Trust.David B. Resnik - 2011 - Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (3):399-409.

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