The Sciences

Many Roads to Science

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollFeb 17, 2010 2:50 PM

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We've collected enough data in our What Got You Interested in Science? poll to draw some conclusions. Not very firm conclusions, of course, as the whole process was wildly non-scientific, and there's no reason to expect that the respondents were a representative sample in any sense. (The numbers were not bad; the smallest category, "the internet," received 62 votes so far.) But conclusions, nonetheless! And the main conclusion is: there are many different things that get young proto-scientists interested in the field. Books, both non-fiction and fiction, play an important role, but no one thing really stands out.

That's interesting, and not really what I would have expected. Given that there certainly are many things that could get someone interested in science, I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a dominant source for the pipeline, but instead it's quite a diverse porfolio. If we think getting people interested in science is a good thing, the lesson is: there aren't any magic bullets. A broad-based strategy seems appropriate. Interesting books, educational classes, encouraging relatives, engrossing hobbies and school activities, inspiring movies and TV shows. I approve.

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