Some Frustrating Tweets

In conjunction with my blogging, I’ve taken to Twitter over the past few months. I’m not devoting too much energy to it, but it’s a nice exercise in social media skills, which seem to have become essential in the modern work world.

The other nice thing about Twitter is that it is a science communication playground. Scientists, science communicators, science artists, etc. LOVE Twitter. I enjoy logging in and watching the constant twittering of people much more devotes to social media than I.

However, like all social media platforms, Twitter can be a bit frustrating. I encountered the following tweets the last time I was online. I’ve deleted anything that could identify their authors.

Tweet: The longer I sit in this Marketing class.... the more Marketing feels like a scam.

Tweet: I'm sure there are decent actors, just like there are (maybe) decent politicians. But I don't like media creations very much. Actors are like parakeets: colorful, noisy, and prone to defecate on you. Apologies for my directness.

Both of these tweets were written by scientists.

To respond to them in turn:

1) Marketing is not a scam. It works remarkably well. That’s why it’s a multi-billion dollar industry all over the globe. In fact, marketing science is itself a field that focuses on applying scientific methods towards solving customer relations problems and seeking generalized truths. Like science, marketing is systematic, data-driven, and rigorous. I had a professor once, a “real” scientist (an entomologist), who called marketing the “science of changing human behaviour.”

2) Actors are among the most generous, vibrant, and insightful people I know. And the best actors I know approach their work systematically and experimentally. Much like a scientist.

These tweets aren’t especially hateful as far as Twitter goes. They’re rather innocent in the grand scheme of things. However, they exemplify something that continues to frustrate me the more time I spend working within the scientific world while not being a scientist myself.

Namely, I’m referring to the seeming inability of many scientists to get off their high horse and value other fields.

I sometimes question my choice to not become a working scientist. I could always revisit it if I want to, but sometimes it seems that for every one open-minded science person aware that their work is a small part of a larger global system, not Almighty Truth, there are five who perpetuate the stereotype that science people are in any way smarter, more knowledgeable, or (most perniciously) morally superior to others working in a vast array of fields. They aren’t. The ratios mercifully seem to be turning as the world becomes more interdisciplinary, but it’s still irritating.

Science is one mode of thinking, and not one that is superior. For centuries, science was simply lumped into philosophy, a field quickly dismissed by many scientists for being ‘impractical’ or ‘bookish.” Science is one way. Not the way. And the more time I spend away from the world of research, the more I become convinced that science is deeply, deeply flawed (though that’s a topic for another day).

I did respond to each of these tweets, but mostly just to quickly address the misconceptions contained within them. I wasn’t trying to be too confrontational about it. In retrospect, I wish I could have expressed a bit more of what I’ve written here to them, but I’m not sure how much use that would have been.

Ultimately, this is why I never became a research scientist. I didn’t want to get absorbed into that mode of thinking, and I got sick of the superiority.

I reckon it’s thinking like that that perpetuates the divide between the sciences and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. So, I suppose I’m doing all I can by simply continuing to think and write about it.

And I suppose that’s all I have to say for today.

PS: Follow me on Twitter! @Artfulsci  I CLEARLY post all the time.

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