This cartoon, by political cartoonist Mark Fiore, presents a view on the interaction between scientist and non-scientist that I find frightening. Yes, it's pointedly about global warming, but put in “stem-cell research” or “genetic engineering” and you'd still get a cartoon where the scientist exasperatedly tries to use evidence and research to explain a point to a stubborn caveman.
As a biologist, I find it easy to agree with Fiore. After all, how many times have I tried to explain my opinion on, say, the origin of man and was met with what I perceived as self-inflicted ignorance? It's a view that I think many scientists stumble upon, the idea that the general non-scientific public refuses to listen to us because scientists are perceived as “hoaxsters” trying to flame a panic or, even worse, some sort of pessimistic and emotionless heathen.
This blog, through my probably amateurish attempts at journalism, will seek to explore the gap that exists between scientists and the public. It's a gap that I've been running into recently as I find myself separated from my home at UC Berkeley, a venerable scientific institution (read: bubble). It's a gap that has resulted in people turning away when I tell them that I study biology, that I make decisions based on empirical data as often as possible, that I think global warming is real, and that I think the world is about 4 billion years old. It's a gap, most I importantly, that I don't want to exist.
My name is Carly. I'm twenty-one years old and a senior at UC Berkeley studying integrative biology and studio art (for those of you who are wondering, yes it's an interesting combination-every one seems to says that). My growing specialties are paleontology, parasitology and biological illustration and history. I say growing because I'm young and, I'll say this now and try not to dwell on it too often, new to this. I am new (relatively) to biology, I am new to the realization of the disparity between scientist and non-scientist, and (most importantly), I am new to journalism and blog-keeping in general. I'll accept criticism and learn from it whenever possible.
As a biologist, I realize that I'm keen to explore the overly-beaten horse of creationism vs evolution vs intelligent design debate, but I want this blog to be about all realms of science in America, so I'll try to explore physics, chemistry, engineering, and other fields. Why America? Because it's where I live. Because it's where I will (most likely) work. Because the decisions people make here will affect my life and scientific practice. I have reason to care. I encourage you to as well.