The human science person.

I like science.  I often wish I could take Beyonce’s advice and put a ring on it.  I recently watched Hubble 3D, a documentary on the repair of the Hubble telescope, and was overwhelmed by the achievements of the project.  The images that captured the endless beauty of the nebular made me cry sweet cosmic tears of joy.

Of course when you are fond of something, you find yourself wanting to share it with others.  Yet the stereotype of being a ‘sciencey’ person can deter many from exploring the pure wonder of its many fields.  In my opinion, the still existing stereotype of science people being odd geeky white insensitive loner males is a massive misrepresentation.  A nice little study by Fermilabs showed this perception in seventh graders, here.

Although I fit the white male characteristics, I feel that the general sentiment that some hold toward ‘science people’ as emotionally detached and socially recluse is completely inaccurate to my personality and lifestyle.  I’ve even done some sex.  So there.

The aforementioned stereotyping becomes an issue when it alienates others and deters them from actively engaging in science for fear of an identity clash.  At first I thought the solution to this was trying to advocate science in an identity-neutral way.  The information and principles of science could be communicated in the closest form to pure objectivity as possible, preventing any personality traits from being associated with it.

But this is not particle, nor do I think it is possible.  Being human demands subjectivity, even in the pursuit of objectivity.

This leads me to believe that celebrating personal identity in promoting and communicating science is a valid approach.  That way, a diversity of avenues for endorsing science can be utilised by allowing individualised expression of it.

My sister’s approach, for example, is to come up with awesome science slogans:

Medicine: You’ll never get sick of it.

Botany: For budding scientists.

Haematology: It’s not all in vein.

Linguistics: Everyone is talking about it.

Bacteriology: It will grow on you.

Chemistry: It really does matter.

So my current standing on the subject, especially after laughing furiously at those puns, is that science needs subjective expression to promote the goal of objectivity.  After all, science can be a very personal thing.  It makes you dream, makes you wonder, makes you cry and laugh and want to share and tell and teach.  Science can make you feel overwhelmed by the simplest natural phenomenon or the most complex engineering construction.  It can challenge you, inspire you, annoy you, make you feel insignificant, empower you and always enlighten you.  It’s pure in method yet flawed in practice.  It’s a fierce weapon and a giant bandaid.  It’s a friend and an ally.  It’s a dynamic guide to the world that derives from our deep desire to understand it.  It’s human.  So I’m going to be human about it.

Some of the people I feel that do this well are:

Sara E Mayhew: a manga drawing skepticism-ninja-lady.

Tim Minchin: a multi-talented music man with a heart full of logic.

Richard Hammond: you know him from Top Gear. He used to show people how fun science can be on Brainiac. Stop dicking around in cars Richard and do more of this…

Ultimately, this article from the ABC gives me hope.


One thought on “The human science person.

  1. Perhaps we could see a science based miniseries from you in the near future: the science of perception maybe, bridging the shows Derren Brown has done with more neuroscience based programmes. If we can get more people to understand how easily the brain is fooled and therefore why the methods of science are so important in bypassing this, then a significant portion of the battle is won. Thanks for the post Simon.

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