I was chatting with some American scientists (molecular biologists) the other day and one of them said 'oh, you can tell so-and-so is a famous scientist because he's an ageing grey-haired man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a paunch'. And I realised it's true, there's a certain look from certain West-Coast-of-America types that means - I'm in the inner sanctum, I work at Stanford/UCSF/Berkeley, I'm this close to a Nobel and I can dress in novelty shirts and be eccentric because everyone knows I'm a big cheese.
Very coincidentally, that same week another girl (British this time) was making fun of her friend saying, he looks like a mad scientist with that beard and those sandals.
So while none of us would argue that the white-coated Gary Larson stereotype does not still reign supreme in popular culture (tv, films, adverts etc.), perhaps amongst scientists, who are up to speed on the reality of the situation, some newer stereotypes are evolving. Perhaps we are at that rare moment in mythology when the stereotype is still truth, yet to be set in the stone of Popular Culture?