From Albion Awakening...
With the death of Stephen Hawking, famous more for being crippled and anti-religion than for the scope of his scientific achievements, and the non-personing of Jim Watson in 2007; most people could not name a single living scientist - nor could a single living scientist's name be recognised by most people.
The reason is obvious enough - real science has disappeared from the official and professional institutions and been replaced by, absorbed by, The Bureaucracy. The biggest and most heavily-funded 'scientific' projects are actually engineering (the human genome project, hadron collider, renewed interest in space travel...) and/ or a pack of lies propagated for political reasons (anthropogenic global warming, the best-selling 'new' medical drugs...).
The 'scientists' are just careerist bureaucrats, doing what they are told by their 'line managers', who are themselves keyed-into the rest of The Bureaucracy - just like everyone else.
The sixties counter-culture has been completely absorbed by the mass media amplified by personal computers and ubiquitous 'smart'-phones - and political 'dissent' and 'radicalism' is mainstream, taught in schools and by state propaganda; subsidised and promoted by The Bureaucracy.
Now science is bureaucracy; consequently The Bureaucracy is science. We believe and obey because Truth is now consensus, and consensus is manufactured by managed-committees, by procedures and by votes - and the bureaucratic consensus is validated by internal bureaucratic mechanisms that allocate funding, publication, promotions, publicity, awards and prizes.
... Read the whole thing at Albion Awakening
I guess the onli "living scientists" most people could name would be media personalities like Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also, I guess Jane Goodall is still alive. Anyway, no one known for groundbreaking discoveries.
@WmJas - You are probably right about Dawkins being well known - mainly as an atheist/ anti-Christian. His Selfish Gene idea did make him relatively well known up to about 25 years ago, but nothing like scientists of earlier generations (he also devised the term 'meme', but that word has now completely changed its meaning). Jane Goodall isn't known to the younger generation, even science students - in my experience of trying to teach about her. NdGT isn't known in the UK, so I had forgotten about him; our equivalent is Brian Cox. But media personalities who happen to be/ or have been employed as scientists isn't the same thing as being known for scientific achievements.
Oh,c'mon, you left out "Bill Nye, the Science Guy"!
@DR - Indeed - I think I only first heard of him a year-or-so ago, related to his crude propaganda for political correctness. From what I have seen, he strikes me as an example of The Snake-Eyed Ones.
Nye has never been a professional scientist. He was a mechanical engineer before getting into showbiz.
Engineers and inventors seem to catch the public imagination more than scientists, going way back.
I don't suppose E. O. Wilson is much known anymore, nor, indeed, am I sure if he was ever a household name. (He certainly was in my household growing up, due mainly to my younger brother's short-lived but intense passion for ants!)
I was going to comment that there was Steven Jay Gould - but it proves your assertion, since I didn't know enough to realize he passed away 15 years ago...
Grigori Perelman seems relatively well known, ironically for his strong allergy against being covered by mass-media, rejection of multiple high-profile (bureaucratic) awards, etc.
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