Pit Justin Bieber, the latest pop sensation, against forty of the world’s leading scientific researchers, commentators and celebrators in a Twitter follower battle. Who do you think comes out on top? Surely science? Actually, Bieber wins by over 9 million followers.
That’s right. When it comes to popularity on the social media circuit, the whiney purveyor of pop cheese beats the globe’s distinguished physicists, cosmologists and exponents of quantum mechanics hands down.
Take a look at this infographic. I predict a double-take. But your eyes are not deceiving you. Justin Bieber’s Twitter followers clock in at over 40 million, with accounts like Stephen Hawking’s at just over 189,000 and Neil deGrasse Tyson at just over 1.25 million. Astonishing and unbelievable – if it wasn’t true.
But it’s the fact that the combined total of Twitter accounts from the world’s greatest physicists, scientists and scientific organisations COMBINED still don’t come close to knocking Bieber off the Twitter top spot which is really astounding.
You’d have thought that a social media slug-out between Bieber and the boffins would have resulted in a triumphant win for the scientists. A no-brainer, you’d have thought. Yet the ‘no brain’ is the only sentiment you can conclude at a global throng of hormonal teenagers pawing at their smartphones for their latest Bieber fix.
But to the good stuff. Professor Brian Cox comes in with a respectable million-plus followers, and biologist Richard Dawkins and astronaut Christ Hadfield have also racked up a respectable roster of followers. Organisations and sites such as The Discovery Channel and Tech Crunch confidently sail through the Twitter millions, as does the quirky, science themed US sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.
With that in mind, perhaps we can take some solace in the fact that science still has a fighting chance.
Just don’t ask the teenage Bieber what a black hole is. You’ll probably get a radically different interpretation than the more learned Professor Hawking.