I’ve been kindly invited by tekstone, Malcontent, and A. Citizen to be a science blogger here at the Bear Republic. You might say, “but SAS, what qualifies you to be a science blogger? To which I would reply: back off, Jack. I don’t need to justify myself to you, or to anybody.
Just kidding! For simplicity’s sake, I will provide you with the following bulleted list of my qualifications:
- I own a computer.
- I live in a small university town, so I’ve got TONS of free time.
- I lived in New York City for six years, so you are free to say whatever you like about my mother.
- Although my current research is on genetic variation in primate populations, over the course of my ‘career’ I’ve worked on the archaeology of the American Midwest, plant chromosomes, snail ecology, and primate behavior.
- I did my PhD thesis research on gorilla feces, so I’ve got a high threshold for humiliation.
My introduction to politics, like many other scientists, came in 2002 when the state of Georgia starting putting those little ‘evolution is just a theory’ stickers in their textbooks. It was shocking to me because, well, let’s face it – creation science in public schools? That’s just crazy talk. It was especially shocking to me,though, because I was teaching a class on human evolution at a community college in NYC. Let me explain: imagine you’re a plumber. One afternoon, you’re pipe snaking, or doing whatever it is that plumbers do, and all of a sudden, an evangelical Christian comes up behind you, grabs your wrench, and insists that you try to pray away the clog instead. That’s how I felt when they put those stupid stickers in the biology textbooks. Believe what you want, pray to whom you’d like, but DON’T tell me how to do my job! And so, four years later, I can finally cross “publically express outrage” off my to-do list.
I know, deep down, that Americans are rational people. Nobody (okay, very few people) want to go back to getting the weekly forecast from sheep entrails. The problem is that almost nobody knows what scientists do all day. From the movies, you’d think that we show up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee, put the finishing touches on the death ray, have a light lunch, build an evil army of the undead, and call it day. I should be so lucky. It’s a good day for me when an intern brings me a muffin from the cafeteria. (In case they’re reading this, how about blueberry next time?)
In addition, I think that somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the fact that science and technology don’t exist to convert your children to a state of godless communism. They’re not a ‘religion’ (despite what the demon Coulter says) and don’t (despite what Richard Dawkins says) have the nonexistence of God as a basic assumption. Science and technology exist so that we can make people’s lives easier and better. Ultimately, isn’t this also the goal of government, too?
I’d like to say again how honored I am to have this opportunity to join a great community! You may now return to your post-turkey nap.