Which group do you think contributes more of value to society: artist or scientists? Compare the contributions of each group. Use specific examples and reasons to explain your answer.
Although society honors the scientist with respect and (to some extent) high social prestige, society appears to reserve its greatest immediate, monetary rewards for artists – specifically, those who produce entertainment with the widest possible appeal and therefore the greatest potential for corporate profit. Artists who create such worlds are rewarded with wealth, fame, and influence beyond the most extravagant dreams of scientists.
Here is a case in point. About 50 years ago, a British astrophysicist named Fred Hoyle promulgated a “steady state” model of the universe, directly opposed to the “big bang” model in which the universe was thought to have originated with the explosion of a great primordial block of matter. Hoyle’s steady-state universe was a much quieter and less dramatic place, creating new parts just fast enough to replace its worn-out components.
Eventually Hoyle’s model was proven basically wrong, but parts of it contributed greatly to astrophysics and cosmology, and Hoyle was knighted. Hoyle himself, however, remained practically unknown to the public as a whole. About this same time. a British singer named Julie Andrews became one of the most famous entertainers in history, while a British author of romance novels (an “artist,” in a very loosely defined sense of the word) became both renowned and rich for her writings. The scientist did basically more important work, while the artists received greater tangible rewards.
It is ironic, then, that from a long-term perspective, the scientist may come out ahead of the artist. The artist’s work may go out of fashion and be forgotten, whereas the scientist’s work is more enduring. Do we remember who was the greatest actor in Sir Isaac Newton’s London? No: but we remember Newton.