A little something we all need to acknowledge: if a thing becomes a chore it’s not fun anymore.
This blog is not a scientific publication, obviously. It is something I do for interests sake. I am a mere amateur with an interest in the natural world. In the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about the direction I want to go in.
Whether I’m good at it or not I’ve always liked writing. I have written quite a few stories over the years, and I reckon I might give storytelling more airtime. My destiny doesn’t lie with science. Indeed, I don’t think it ever did. After graduation I remained at university, working as a lab assistant in one of the labs I did my Honours degree in.
Honestly: I bloody hated it. My head has always been too firmly stuck in the clouds. Daydreaming was always a weakness of mine. Science is by its very nature extremely weighed down by procedure, and has a supernatural obsession with formatting and box ticking.
This is completely as it should be.
I ran into this headlong whilst working on my thesis. The central cancer eating away at the core of science is this “Publish or Perish” mentality. Scientists as a group are extremely concerned with being noticed in their fields. We all know of the greatest minds in history. Their genius propelled them to dizzying heights. But what happens to more everyday people who are concerned with climbing the ladder?
They must behave themselves. They must study and become consumed by the minutiae of procedure, of following the herd, of referencing and formatting.
I think I spent more hours on my thesis constantly checking that the formatting and referencing was geometrically perfect. I completely understand why referencing is important.
Really. I actually do.
But looking back on my university experience I realise that all of the messing about and lost sleep dealing with tidying up my thesis and making sure every single goddamn dot, comma, surname and date was correct to seventy six decimal places did not add a single scrap of meaning or joy to the entire process. In fact, it turned the whole thing into a great big chore. I recognised early on that science is really a fairly monolithic edifice of bureacratism. After all, the central pillar of science is meticulous record keeping and observation.
It’s all a moot point now. I’m not a scientist or teacher or a scicommer or anything really. I’m just Ben, and I find lots of things interesting.
That’s all I have to do. If people want to engage with me and have a chat about the universe they know where to find me. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.
The tone of this post is a little tense I realise. I won’t apologise for that. In fact I’m going to use that energy and briefly make this observation:
Politics and science are becoming one. This is a truly dangerous time for true science. Why’s that? Because up until now science has been a quest for discovery.
When politics gets tossed into the game human nature, with all its infinite foibles takes over. The quest is forgotten and science becomes a scramble for power like any other politically charged situation.
This is a space I’d rather not watch….
This post is not a criticism of scientists or the scientific method. It is an observation I’ve made personally over the years; that much “real” science has been outmoded and replaced by bureaucratic, performance driven and commercially oriented endeavours. I know scientists need to pay their bills, but I think something has skewed somewhat. Science does not need to be corrupted by politics. In an age of increasing populism and outright manipulation of public opinion, the waters are now very muddy indeed.