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If USA Today is to be believed, one of the coolest places for scientists to be these days is in a chair next to Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. Writer Dan Vergano today discusses how these comedians' "news" shows have embraced science-minded guests, and he quotes a Caltech physicist as saying Comedy Central is "it, as far as science goes." But is there a downside to scientists, like NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, (who was interviewed, above, by Colbert last fall) appearing on the show? From the article:
Could Colbert's mocking style destroy the dignity of science? In 2008, political scientist Jody Baumgartner of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and colleagues found that young adults watching The Colbert Report's opening monologue took the show's mock-conservative host seriously, failing to "get" its parody of strident punditry.
But Baumgartner says: "It seems to me as if any 'risk' for scientists appearing on these programs is minimal. Both Stewart and Colbert seem to be genuinely respectful of their science guests, even if they do engage in dialogue that is intended to generate laughs."
Previously: The NIH's Francis Collins' to do list
Video from ColbertNation.com