For almost as long as there have been television networks, science shows have been part of the TV landscape. But science programming didn’t begin by accident. At first it was a way for TV stations to build trust with their audiences; then it was used as a ploy to get families to buy more television sets. But as the world changed, so did science on TV. Distillations interviewed Ingrid Ockert, a fellow at the Science History Institute and a historian of science and media, about five key contributors to the science television landscape: the Johns Hopkins Science Review, Watch Mr. Wizard, NOVA, 3-2-1 Contact, and our favorite turtleneck-wearing celebrity scientist, Carl Sagan. Our conversation revealed that successful science shows have always had one thing in common: they don’t treat their audiences like dummies.
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