Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The game stays the same

I once read the book "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. What surprised me was the fact that a great deal of "scientists" in the past were self-serving, arrogant, cocky, self-important, conceited, overweening, priggish pricks. A property by the way they share with today's politicians, religious believers and the rest of the human race.

Sometime ago I thought that life today is different, that people today are somehow "better". Today I am more disillusioned and it does not surprise me anymore that politics interfered with science and that there were, are (and always will be) "scientists" who are willing supporters of this kind of endeavour.

I would like to call myself an misanthrope, as I hate those kinds of people, but there are people in world who are not pricks. So does hating just stupid pricks make me a misanthrope?

(via fefe, in German)

[Update] I found this nice nugget via wikipedia:

Bryson also exaggerates the portrayals of some scientists: Ernest Rutherford is said to be an overpowering force, Fred Hoyle a complete weirdo, Fritz Zwicky an utterly abrasive astronomer, and Newton a total paranoiac. Surely the descriptions of these and other scientists are distorted.

A Short History of Nearly Everything - Prepared by the staff of Jupiter Scientific

Which sounds to me like: "I'm just too lazy to look up any facts, but surely these descriptions are distorted. Impossible that scientists are anything other than scientists, same as it is impossible that a politician is anything other than a politician or an astronaut is anything other than an astronaut."

Sure, Bryson could be wrong. But his works looks pretty solid to me.


Stef said...

The politicisation of science is built into the way we do science

Imagine you're a young scientist looking to do a PhD/ Doctorate

To do that you must

a) receive funding
b) be sponsored by established researcher

So what do you think your chances would be of receiving funding and sponsorship if your work had the potential to contradict the work of either your sponsor or the people giving out the grants?

barbie said...

The authors my family and I encounter are as many as the grains of sand, who intentionally distort, embellish and even fabricate anecdotes regarding my father, Fritz Zwicky. Byrson did not know my father, and just like a parrot, is repeating tired old anecdotes, that have, in my opinion,long lost any credibility. However, it does liven up a boring book. My father was a true visionary, and a courageous trailblazer. He was so brilliant that it took the scientific community over 70 years to confirm his theories, and he often spoke about their spherical nescience to truth. Ugly commentary against a decedent by authors and scientists, will not affect my father's magnificent work and legacy. However, it does reveal the author's mettle, which now becomes his legacy.

Tony said...