Science as Culture, and Cultural Depictions Thereof
What can we learn about science from the thought processes of t-shirt designers? Let’s ask some entrants in the Seed Magazine / Threadless T-shirt competition!
First, we learn that science is something that acts on culture, and is important to culture, but is not a part of culture – like rain, or the location of a deposit of easily refined tin:
Nothing embodies the cultural importance of science greater than [this shirt]
Science has been known to over complicate things at times; but then there are times that it improves our culture!
I wanted to show that even parts of culture that are crazy and unscripted have science working in the background.
Then we learn that science and culture conflict:
We always give cultural names -such as “heartbreak”, “butterflies in the stomach”, etc. – to our feelings, which actually have a scientific explanation
At last, someone gets it right:
I’m not quite sure how a Victorian-style octopedal skull-in-jar conveys that concept, but then, my cultural production is limited to science and blogging.
Finally, we learn that science is mostly for white people, especially white men. Of the people depicted on the shirt submissions that had either an identifiable race, an identifiable gender, or both, as of last night, we had:
- 1 person of color of indeterminate gender
- 1 man of indeterminate race
- 3 women of indeterminate race
- 4 men of color
- 7 white women
- 8 white people of indeterminate gender
- 29 white men
- 0 women of color
We also learn that using Einstein’s face as a synecdoche for sciencey brilliance is really trite and overdone. As if we didn’t know that already.
Despite its collusion with white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, I really want this one to win.