I am a scientist. Maybe a defrocked, non-practicing scientist, but that’s my culture.
We have a method, we have an ethic, we serve Truth.
It’s hard work, but it’s also way cool – explore the mysteries of the universe and all that.
Science is something that informs my worldview – granted, I can suspend disbelief and read and enjoy (or write, and sell) a fantasy story, but at heart I have a certain set of rational routines and I will never be able to completely dis-install them.
And I’m getting increasingly nervous about the growing backlash against science I see around me.
You can’t correct someone’s wrong notion that you will be billed as an “arrogant know-it-all”.
And I wonder if fiction doesn’t have a part of responsibility.
Oh, granted, it is normal for the ignorant to consider impossible for anybody to know more than they do, and therefore in the eye of the ignorant anyone claiming to know more than they do is a fraud and a swindler.
It’s a cultural construct, ignorance feeding on itself.
But what about all the mad scientists, all the unreliable, cynical and manipulative scientists we have met from the days of Victor Frankenstein on?
Did the idea catch on somehow, and in people mind’s anyone pursuing a career in science is secretly planning to strap a scantly clad woman to a bench and the do her something with needles, electric switches or superscience?
Now, of course, this is just half the story – we’ve met a number of scientists as heroes in fiction, but they somehow failed to make the mark. And now, with the increasing populism and the rise of mediocrity as a value, the ignorant brute is shown as the hero of the tale, kicking the evil scientist.
I am worried.
This sort of culture can easily spiral out of control, and lead to all sorts of horrors, both on a personal and a global scale.
Can we invert the flow?
Maybe it’s time we started once again pushing some solid, fun, entertaining scientific hero out there. Whatever happened to Captain Future and his Futuremen?