Pharyngula

There are plenty of horrors to give us the heebie-jeebies, as you can learn in the 52nd Carnival of the Godless.

As for me, I’m going to be playing a mad scientist DJ on Tuesday, showing clips from horror movies at the Cafe Scientifique. I’ve been chopping and splicing all morning to get ready for it.

Comments

  1. #1 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2006

    Same as anyone else – watch cheesy horror movies

    indeed. a tradition for me for over 30 years now.

    I’m watching John Carpenter’s 1982 “The Thing” as I type this.

  2. #2 j.t.delaney
    October 30, 2006

    Joel Sax:

    PZ: I’ll start believing in scientists being victimized by these films when I stop seeing them drawing salaries for their researches in the weapons, minerals, and pharmaceuticals industries.

    Joel, I’ll make a deal with you: “we scientists” will all stop researching and educating, just as soon as you and the other 7 billion non-scientists agree to wallow in your own pathogen-laden shit and accept a 33-year lifespan — for you and everybody you care about. Science and engineering are the *only* way to feed, cloth, house, transport, and care for the 7 billion people we share this planet with, not to mention the next couple billion coming. Going back to the Dark Ages won’t make society any less prone to violence or inhumanity (that’s why it’s called “the Dark Ages”), and it certainly will not provide a way for that many people to live with a scrap of dignity.

    I think you have some unfortunate ideas about scientists, and it makes me think you haven’t met very many of us. First off, most of us are not rich, period. A professional research scientist working at the top of their game is pretty much going to earn a middle-class or maybe upper middle-class income — especially working for a big company. Really, the payscale isn’t that much different than a master plumber or electrician. Engineers certainly do better, but it isn’t until you get into management that you start to earn *real* money… but by then, you’re not really doing much hands-on “science”, per se.

    Back in the States, I used to work for a medical device company in the Twin Cities (which shall remain nameless.) On my first day, a old-time veteran in my lab taught me the phrase: “you don’t get rich in R&D”. Over the next five years, I found out how true this was. He and I, along with a few thousand other people, helped to launch a medical device to market that saves hundreds of thousands of lives every year (a drug loaded stent.) We worked incredibly long hours, and made great personal sacrifices to get that product out. Regrettably, our friends and family suffered, and a few people got divorsed as a result. Some couldn’t take it, and eventually burned out during that time. I have to admit ironically, I developed a bit of high blood pressure during this time (I was in my mid-twenties.) None of us expected to get rich, but we had our motivations for what we did: we knew that our product would make it possible for Grandma and Grandpa to stay around for a few more years and hug their grandkids, and that was far too beautiful of an idea to let go. We also knew that if it were successful, it would mean tens of thousands of jobs for our hometown on the far-flung edge of the Rust Belt. That was our motivation, we actually succeeded beyond our expectations, and I’m proud of the work we did.

    Scientists like Gould, Sagan and Dawkins wax poetically about the power of science to illuminate the world. For them, this is what makes them so passionate about science and education. However, for scientists like me, it’s the hope of making the world a better place to live. It’s the thought that something I do might be useful to thousands of people I’ll never meet, and maybe a few of them will wonder about who helped make it possible. The beauty of the cosmos is inspiring, but the fulfillment of a moral imperitive is what drives me.

    As for science mental illness, I think you are also a little uninformed. More than a couple scientists I have known suffer from unipolar and bipolar depression, as well as other infirmeries. Scientists are people like anybody else, and suffer the same illnesses and frailties as the the rest of the population. I think it is tragic for you to suggest that people with these conditions can’t also be good scientists — I’ve known some that have been truly brilliant. If it didn’t work out for you, I’m truly sorry; bipolar disorder can be debilitating, and my only suggestion is not to give up.

    Ultimately, all this animosity is being directed at the wrong people. Sure, scientists have made things like atom bombs possible, but it’s megalomaniacal religious clerics and politicians that made them necessary evils in the first place — they’re the real reason they were developed at all. It’s not so much a matter of money motivating scientists to do these things; they’re clever people, and could make more money doing something else. If anything, I’d say it’s a manipulation of their emotions. People are prone to do all sorts of things in the name of God and Country, and scientists are no exception. I can’t justify it all, but I think dehumanizing scientists and engineers that do military work does a disservice to the truth of why this research happens, and how to prevent future violence.

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