Communicating Knowledge to New Audiences: Victorian Popularizers of Science
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In the past historians have tended to explain the existence of a cult of science from about 1850 to 1890 as the result of the work of elite scientists such as Darwin, Huxley, and Tyndall. But this explanation leaves out two crucial factors: the role of popularizers who were not practitioners of science and the occurrence of a communications revolution in the second quarter of the 1800s that established the conditions necessary for what happened in the second half of that century. Once these factors are added to our account of the cult of science, a very different picture emerges, one that forces us to reconsider the standard story of the dominance of the scientific scene by figures like Darwin, Huxley, and Tyndall.