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.
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.