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Jul 04, 2022 Commentary
Science communication in the face of skepticism, populism, and ignorance: what ‘Don’t Look Up’ tells us about science denial — and what it doesn’t

by Niels G. Mede

‘Don’t Look Up’ tells the story of a team of astrophysicists whose efforts to warn politicians, media makers, and the public about an apocalyptic comet impact on planet Earth are undermined by fundamental skepticism toward their expertise. On the one hand, the film offers a rich portrayal of contemporary anti-science sentiments, their societal conditions, and the media and communication ecology surrounding them. But on the other hand, ‘Don’t Look Up’ ignores and exaggerates several facets of those sentiments and the communicative settings in which they spread. This commentary analyzes this contrast through a science communication lens: it scrutinizes the (mis)representation of science denial and science communication in ‘Don’t Look Up’ — and aims to inspire further debate about portrayals of anti-science phenomena and potential remedies within popular media.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022