The Innoculated Mind has a great rant about the problems of mixing blogging about science, and being a scientist, with the perception that a scientist should be “objective.” Which, ergo, means that you can’t have a personal opinion.*

The part I liked the best from it was a quote from PZ:

“Maybe you aren’t interested (even if the fact that it’s driven you to write to me or about me contradicts that claim), but so what? I am not writing for you. I am writing for me, and I find it interesting. “

Amen.
While I have chosen deliberately to write things that try to debunk quackery around entomological topics for lay folks, I began writing in the first place to simply….write. And to challenge myself to write in a way a person at a high school reading level can understand, and to make factual stuff FUN.

(I’m not there yet, but I’m trying. I did manage to combine zombies, Barry White, and mosquitoes in one post, which is a start.)

I thought about trying to link to some of the other posts I’ve made about why I blog, but I just didn’t feel like being self-referential right now. I will link back to Phil, who found this initially, and who is also a real mensch.

——-

*My 5 regular readers (we counted them last week) know that “not having an opinion” is something I clearly gave up on some time ago.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!

9 Comments

  1. Hmn, dunno if I’m one of the “5 regular”, but I would say that “not having an opinion” is a foolish goal for anyone to aspire to! Not having an opinion means failing to take a moral stance on the issues that require such. Not having an opinion means not caring about which issues are important to you as a person. In those regards, you have more-than-adequately succeeded in being opinionated.

    I’ve always found that the writers & speakers whom I enjoy best are those with opinions. They have opinions because they’ve struggled to achieve things and have had to tear through a lot of nonsense and apply independent thought to achieve their goals. I may not always agree with them, but they give me things to think about.

    Thank you for being so opinionated! You go, girl.

  2. “You have more than adequately succeeded at being opinionated” :D

    Anyone who thinks scientists are dispassionate data technicians has never been to a scientific meeting.
    The amazing part, though, is that while people may yell and wave arms, more often than not, then they go out for a beer together.

    That always freaks undergraduates out, since they haven’t quite gotten the hang of not having total absolutes in decisions and beliefs yet.

  3. I prefer opinionated scientists. Even when I disagree with them, I fell like at least there’s something behind their opinions. Culturally, we seem much more tolerant of getting opinions from some pretty odd folks- like celebreties and politicians. Vaporware. Feh.

  4. Oh yeah, they’re still mentally hemmed-in by the false dichotomies they learnt as tots. And even those who understand that there’s lots of greys betwixt the black and white will still have mental speedbumps because then you go and introduce colors and dimensions and …

    the ones who get turned on by all that are still around later on to talk about stuff. And they make us feel like the world’s not a lost cause, after all.

  5. I concur.

    Real science is done at the bar and coffee shops. I can’t remember who said that, maybe Bora or Rick. I spend most of my time speculating. Its rather a lost art it seems. The fun part is turning speculation into testable hypotheses!

    By the way, you now have your 6th reader!

  6. Hey, guess what?

    http://www.sciencecafes.org/index.html

    a new initiative by Sigma Xi. Unfortunately, none in my immediate area, which is surprising.

  7. The other issue is that people tend to think that opinions can’t change neither. They expect you to stick to what you said or might say.

    The real problem with “you can’t have a personal opinion” is that if it were the case, then nobody would be able to tell facts from mere thoughts. Would make propaganda so easy! I remember arguing with somebody who pretended media had to and were objective, everything she was thinking was just dogma soap (I hope she changed her mind BTW).

    Last, language evolved words to distinguish between factual observations and subjective opinions, we are thus expected to use signs and ease the communication drive. Opinions are over data anyway (well, this is not generally true neither, but here comes the science side –This is an opinion after all ;), so as long as facts are expressed clearly…

    Would I change my mind? Oh!

  8. Bummer! No Science Cafés in my area. And with my three jobs, I just don’t have time to get an initiative up and going … Heck, I hardly have time to read The Scientist. (I should find a dry storage area in the bathroom, huh?)
    andrea

  9. Scientists are passionate…that’s why they’re scientists!

Comments are closed.