Dave Barry's Column of 7/8/95
Charlie Wright Genetics
cw117 at mole.bio.cam.ac.uk
Tue Jul 11 14:27:21 EST 1995
elmo at helix.nih.gov (Eric L. Cabot) writes:
> Am I alone at being somewhat unhappy about Dave Barry's syndicated
>column last Sunday in which he lambasts a developmental
>study of Drosophila eye-formation and a biomechanical study of locomotion in
I'm afraid I missed the column... but neither as a Drosophilist nor as an
American have I ever managed to find anything Dave Barry wrote to be
particularly humorous. Perhaps I would have felt differently when I was
at school... at any rate, I suspect you would not be alone.
It is unfortunate that a public that does not understand the
justifications (or has perhaps never heard the justifications) for basic
research will find this humorous, while a well educated public would find
Dave's column embarssingly ignorant of that which he lampoons (this does
not only apply to his understanding of science...) However, as scientists
we are ultimately accountable for public awareness of the importance of
our respective fields, and the onus of improving the education of the
layman and the light in which our work is seen does fall upon us.
I find it perhaps more unfortunate that many scientists I have known feel
that the outside world does not need to know or want to know more. It is
in some ways a strain of ivory-tower syndrome and in some ways a failure
of some scientists to communicate with those outside their field (let
alone outside science) that exacerbates the problem.
Trite as it may sound: "In many ways we have ourselves to blame." It struck
me that in a recent piece I read (please don't ask for the ref....)
dicussing public conceptions, particularly amongst younger school children,
that scientist took a real beating. Children overwhelmingly described a
"scientist" as some combination of a bald, middle-aged man wearing a
white coat, glasses, and a scowl who hated children!? A "Doctor" was
described by the majority as some combination of a kind, younger woman
with a smile and a stethoscope who loved children. The two were not
associated (scientists as doctors or doctors as scientists).
Talk about gender and role-models....
C. R. Wright Dept. of Genetics
+44 (0)1223 333970 telephone Univ. of Cambridge
+44 (0)1223 333992 telefax Downing Street, Cambs.
cw117 at mole.bio.cam.ac.uk CB2 3EH, England
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