Ancient Mythology of Modern Science: A Mythologist Looks (Seriously) at Popular Science Writing

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Mar 9, 2012 - Science - 300 pages
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Humans have long been captivated by mythology and theorized about the lessons embedded in their tales. In The Ancient Mythology of Modern Science, Gregory Schrempp brings a mythologist's critical eye to popular science writing, a flourishing genre that forms a key link between science and popular consciousness. Schrempp argues that the defining and appealing characteristic of this genre is not simplification or "dumbing-down," but the attempt to parlay scientific findings into aesthetically and morally compelling visions that offer guidance for humanity. Schrempp argues that in striving for inspirational visions, popular science invariably reproduces - with ingenious invention - the structures, strategies, and cosmic imagery that infuse traditional mythological views of the cosmos. His claim challenges the widespread tendency to separate myth and science. Schrempp considers both the intellectual history of mythography and concrete examples from world mythologies including ancient Greek, Oceanic, and Native American. Schrempp's explorations span a range of fields, including astronomy, evolutionary biology, and cognitive science. In a world informed, transformed, and sometimes mesmerized by science, this book offers the first in-depth study of popular science writing from a mythologist's perspective.
 

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Contents

Centaurs and Scientists
3
On Myth Popular Science and the Problem of Centric Knowledge
12
2 It Had to Be You Fire without Prometheus
35
Sobering Lessons from the Drunkards Walk
72
An Origin Myth for the Category
109
Introversive Anthropomorphizing in Popular Science Writing
151
6 Once More with Feeling The View from the Moon and the Return of the Copernican Revolution
191
Paradise Lost Paradise Regained How Scientists Save Myth
222
Notes
233
References
277
Index
293
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About the author (2012)

Gregory Schrempp is associate professor of Folklore, Indiana University (Bloomington), and author of numerous works on comparative cosmology, including Magical Arrows: The Maori, the Greeks, and the Folklore of the Universe.

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