So, more reflections on the Newsnight piece now...
For whatever reason, or reasons, it wasn't at all a `pure science' piece. Although there was a decent amount of time spent on the science itself, it is interesting, culturally speaking, that the producers felt that a piece without the political or financial elements wouldn't stand up. So Newsnight worked hard to use the RSSE as a peg to hang the current spending cuts on, and implications for science funding as compared to how science funding is currently being handled in other G8 countries (meeting this week, hence that's a useful current shorthand).
Perhaps science alone itsn't interesting enough to hold the attention of the Newsnight audience at large - hard to judge this one, given that I know that I personally do actually find science interesting. Or maybe (because who doesn't like a good conspiracy theory!?) we can delve deeper for the media's agenda here. Certainly there are journalists who seem outraged at scientists trying to present the case for continuing financial support at current levels. If you find that hard to believe, please read Simon Jenkins in the Grauniad earlier this week:
Comment may indeed be free, but it's not always a worthwhile use of space. An early indication of the reaction to this article is that it currently has 286 comments on the Grauniad website, over twice the number his articles appear usually to garner (ooh, careful with that infinitive).
So why the outrage from (sections of) the media? Perhaps because science is still seen, by those, such as Mr Jenkins, who have been scared of it for the whole of their lives, as superfluous to modern living and modern society. Well, at the RSSE, have we got news for you. Mr Jenkins, it would be great to see you at our exhibit and talk in person, if you happen to read this before next Sunday 4 July.
Chris has alerted me to a much more nuanced and specific worry about current arts/science interaction written by Ivan Hewitt in the Torygraph last Friday:
where the worry is much more about Darwinist explanations being promoted as the only reason that we respond well to Beethoven and Shakespeare. Luckily, there's plenty more to modern science than Darwin. Worth repeating, I think: Darwin is one small part of modern scientific thought. Come and see bundles of other scientific ideas at the RSSE, and chew over a Brazil Nut or two (blog posts passim, as Private Eye would say).