Re: Popular(izing) Science

From: John Marlow (
Date: Wed Feb 21 2001 - 05:28:10 MST

**See below. Portions snipped.

On 21 Feb 2001, at 9:28, Amara Graps wrote:

> From: John Marlow (
> ...So then, well and good, I'm glad to hear it.
> But where did this phrase:
> >largely UNpopular with other scientists, who tend
> ^^^^^^^^^^
> to look down upon such sharing of secret knowledge
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> with the unwashed masses
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> come from? Do these words come from _your_ experience
> with scientists?
> "secret knowledge" ??!! (== "science concepts" ??)
> "unwashed masses" ??!! (== "nonscientists" ??)
> I find these phrases antagonistic and a complete disconnect with
> my knowledge and experience. I've been in the sciences 20 years,
> and I've yet to encounter another scientist who treats
> nonscientists with this kind of scorn, as you describe above.

**Well, that could be because they're treating YOU as a colleague.
Were you in the company of nonscientists who were complete strangers
with no knowlege of the disciplines? Or maybe you just hang out with
nice guys.


**Actually, the 'secret knowledge' thing is Gould's. The 'unwashed
masses' is mine. The same principle is at work with cops and
religious leaders: Knowledge is power, and power shared is power lost.
 This is why cops fight open public access to public records, and why the Church
conducted masses in Latin and hated Gutenberg.

**I've not met many scientists I truly disliked, though I've read
(and read of) a good number of insufferable ones with the decidedly
unscientific attitude that "If the facts don't fit the theory, they
must be disposed of." Before you say it ain't so, consider plate
tectonics as but a single well-documented example. More recently,
you've got people with pet theories threatening to deny telescope
time to people with conflicting theories--whose time on those devices
could disprove the pet theories. Same-old, same-old; was it Clarke or
Asimov who said things change when the old guys die? You've got guys
out there right now calling nanotech science fiction and acting as
though it's never going to happen.

**With the possible exception of religious fundamentalists, there is
no other community as blindly intolerant of new ideas as the
scientific community. None. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.

**"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-
evident." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

**I HAVE, however, met a number of reporters I couldn't stand. The AQ
(arrogance quotient) of some compares with that of some scientists--
which is to say, it's off the scale.


> Amara
John Marlow
------- End of forwarded message -------
John Marlow

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