What to do, what to do?

I am a science graduate, who for a multitude of genuine reasons never found meaningful work in the science sector. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean I can’t engage with and be part of the science community. I think communicating science is a lofty destiny, and I take my little forays into scicomm seriously. 

It turns out though that scicomm is more than just relaying data to the person on the street. Oh no, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. 

Mapping and our picture of the world has come a long way, and a dissemination of knowledge led to this.

Public misconceptions about science and the way scientists work are a major hurdle. Now, I will be completely upfront here. I do not work in the science sector. I studied and worked like a dog for an eon or two getting a nice big piece of paper that says I can do science. I am proud of this and can at least say that I climbed that mountain. 

One thing university did for me was to highlight the prevalence of a weird kind of prejudice (assumption?) about science and scientists. 

The process of discovering this assumption ran as thus. Studying science whilst a whole lot of fun, still required a little thing called PAYING BILLS. To this end I was working in a pizza shop owned by my brother in law. 

It was whilst working here that I discovered that the person on the street seems to think scientists know everything. Many times over the course of a night something requiring actual thinking would come up, and I would be met with the phrase; “you’re a scientist Ben. You work it out.” I kind of tired of this after awhile, and learnt that people fundamentally don’t understand how science works. They see it as something akin to a car: they don’t have to know what’s under the bonnet,  or how the damn thing works. It just has to serve them.

Does anyone know what I’m talking about here?

Removing this weird little blindspot people have is the first step in bringing science to the masses. We’re all surrounded every day by the achievements of science, but for the world to make meaningful progress it needs to understand those achievements, not take them for granted. 

Perhaps in this day and age we need to rediscover our respect for knowledge and wisdom more than ever.

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2 thoughts on “What to do, what to do?

  1. Yes I know what you mean. Do people really believe that only milkmen can fetch milk? They specialise sure, but in the end it only involves using their muscle, so anyone could do it. Its true that because scientists use the muscle of the mind, people they meet may regard it as a questionable choice of profession precisely because it wont be understood at parties nor indeed by one’s own mother and father. What the mug punter doesn’t realise is that they too can and do use their mind every day, and in a multitude and plenitude of ways. They may not be able to converse with a university scientist on matters of astronomy nor to analyse memes, but they probably found that their high school science teacher was easiest to talk to of all the teachers, stuck to the point, and was the only person who understood what goes into a student’s lunch, as well as what the student could get from the opposite gender, and how to stay healthy on both of these fronts. I suspect that what those family and friends who confront their scientist siblings and mates are thinking, is ” we’ve heard you have led a life you choose, and meanwhile we’ve been stuck in doldrums, never investigating any of our dreams, we resent your freedom, can you not invite us to be your equal quite so often.”. So its rather as if the scientist is standing on a street corner trying to hand out $20 notes but no one seems to want them. Just keep collecting the notes bro, only giving to those who ask. Those who ask really really want them.

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