The Questionable Authority

Are you a science nerd?

Janet has challenged all of us to a nerd-off. I’d love to participate, but before I can I’m going to need to figure out if I’m qualified. It’s not easy. Identifying nerds and geeks isn’t something that you can do just based on looks, or a superficial knowledge of habits and personality. Determining whether one is a nerd is a complex procedure, requiring the analysis of a large number of interacting variables. To aid in the self-identification of nerds, I’ve devised the following checklist:

You might be a science nerd if…

  • The ratio of journals to magazines on your coffee table and/or in your bathroom is greater than one
  • attempting to convert that ratio to a proportion would result in a divide by zero error
  • you just debated whether something is a magazine or a journal.
  • you get upset at the Mythbusters because they never give the p-value
  • you know what a p-value is
  • you are more likely to associate the word “significant” with “result” or “digits” than “other”
  • you are more likely to associate the word “bench” with “lab” than “park”
  • you associate “beaker” with both the glassware and the Muppet
  • you know who Beaker worked for
  • the first person you think of when you hear “Huxley” is one of the scientists, not the author
  • you know which Huxley is which
  • you are more likely to wear a lab coat than a dress coat.
  • you have problems deciding which t-shirt to wear to work today
  • more than one of the t-shirts has scientific information on it.
  • you just wondered whether a sweatshirt counts for the last question
  • you can instantly recognize the portrait of at least one pre-20th Century scientist from your field
  • you have a portrait of a pre-20th Century scientist on your wall or a shirt
  • when presented with “Wagner” and “Wegener,” you immediately know which is the opera dude and which was the continental drift guy.
  • you know what was wrong with the continental drift model
  • you know what a Newton measures
  • you have ever used parafilm at home
  • you think of culture as something in a petri dish
  • it takes you a while to figure out what “model” and “swimsuit” have to do with each other
  • you instantly associate the word “expression” with “gene”
  • you understood all or almost all of these questions

If you answered “yes” to more than a third of those questions, you are certainly a science nerd. If that is the case, feel free to participate freely in Janet’s nerdfest.

Comments

  1. #1 John McKay
    September 6, 2006

    I suppose a swimsuit model would begin with the sentence: “First, assume a spherical beach…”

  2. #2 PZ Myers
    September 6, 2006

    Oooh, I love parafilm.

  3. #3 Heather
    September 7, 2006

    Or if you carry a Sharpie at all times in your purse/backpack/bike bag. Extra points if you have more than one colour…

  4. #4 Kristjan Wager
    September 8, 2006

    I would change

    # you are more likely to associate the word “bench” with “lab” than “park”

    to

    # you are more likely to associate the word “bench” with “lab” or “mark” than “park”

    but that might be the computernerd in me speaking.

  5. #5 Daniel
    September 8, 2006

    Hahahaha…. some of these questions crack me up!

    - “you get upset at the Mythbusters because they never give the p-value” Hahahaha! YES! OMG you should see me shouting at the TV. “That is not statistically significant!!!”

    - “you know what a p-value is” I’m certain I do within a 95% confidence interval.

    - “you associate “beaker” with both the glassware and the Muppet” There’s a muppet!?

    - “you are more likely to wear a lab coat than a dress coat.” Hahaha… I own three of the former and none of the latter.

    - “you have ever used parafilm at home” Don’t ask me what for though…

    - “you think of culture as something in a petri dish” Hey! Don’t knock bacteria. They’re the only culture some people have.

    - “you instantly associate the word “expression” with “gene” And traffic lights remind me of microarrays. Hahahaha.

    Oh man, I haven’t laughed this hard in quite some time. Thanks a lot!

  6. #6 coturnix
    September 8, 2006

    Except for not watching Mythbusters (or not really not knowing what it is) I answered every quesiton with a resounding Yes.

  7. #7 Peter Z.
    September 10, 2006

    Do I get extra points for giving this test to my non-sciencey friend as a negative control to normalise the scores by?

  8. #8 Donn Y
    September 12, 2006

    Yea, Mythbusters always with that n of 1 – like they don’t even run triplicate wells. And power? And how many of you think “beta” or “type II error” when you hear “power”?