The current economic and financial crisis is also a political crisis that requires a rethinking of public engagement with science. In the past, the dominant focus of science, technology and society (STS) has led to a blind spot: political understanding and engagement of policy-makers and politicians with science, which is an integral part of any public engagement. Arguably, it is bound to and emerges from what Ezrahi calls collective political imaginaries. These are necessary fictions, which are causative and performative. In crude form, they manifest themselves in short-term impact measurements of every unit of scientific activity with citizens as the fictitious ultimate beneficiaries. In the future, STS can gain from coming up with a workable definition of the public interest with a focus on the public value of science. It can investigate collective imaginaries as they emerge from interactions with new media. As necessary fictions they may hold answers we never imagined them to hold.