Science is not obscure. It isn’t a secret ritual performed by the mysterious denizens of laboratories. We hear about the discoveries of science and the work of scientists in the media constantly (“a new study…” or “scientists have discovered…” or “researchers found…”) and we often use such articles to think briefly about broader topics or even to make decisions about our lives. But still, there is the sense that science is separate from “us,” the general public.
There have been countless efforts over the last decade to popularize citizen science: to use non-scientists or amateur scientists to gather data on a large scale (working over a broad area or using an extensive database). This is perhaps the strongest attempt yet to integrate science directly into the lives of people whose careers do not involve it. We also engage in science for fun: nerdy television shows and games, popular documentaries, ecotourism and science museums, and recently podcasts and other works of popular science. I have always been one to absorb as much “science” as I possibly could, starting from a young age when I obsessively watched the newest episodes of PBS’s Nature and Nova, and there are many others like me.
Still, despite the rising popularity of the nerd and geek in our culture, the spread of scientific literacy has faced challenges. If you’re like me in that you’ve been watching the ongoing political atmosphere with mounting horror, you’ve probably become concerned about the future of science in the United States. There are so many people who love science and all it represents, and yet, there are so many who just don’t seem to care. Scientists and the like are “out of touch academics” or “elitists” and science is only worthwhile if it’s impeccably practical.
But science isn’t just for professional scientists. Science is a way of thinking and looking at the world. It’s a method of discovery. It’s a way of being more certain that your results mean something. You can look at anything through a scientific lens; you may even have a sort of inner scientist, yearning to break free and indulge in the pursuit of curiosity and wonder.
So how can we incorporate science into our daily lives? How can we engage in science more, when we’re not professional scientists ourselves? (Or, if you are a professional scientist, how can you get involved with science not of your particular flavor?)
I can’t answer these questions definitively, but here on The Inner Scientist I’ll document my attempts at those goals and offer advice and insight where I can. This is my first post, so I’ll lay out a sort of preliminary plan: I occasionally engage in citizen science and science communication volunteering; I’ll document those experiences and relate them to bigger issues. I’ll review science books that I read and try to become more engaged in recommending, discussing, and taking recommendations with community members. I’ll talk about science and culture in general, offering some of the wisdom I’ve gained as an undergraduate science student. I’m also a parent, so I’ll probably get involved in early child education and fun science projects.
This blog is meant to be a place to have fun and inspire your curiosity. I’d love to engage with readers and fellow science enthusiasts: please let me know if you have suggestions, want to discuss something I write about, want to collaborate or guest post, or are part of a community you think I’d enjoy (recommendations for websites, books, documentaries, etc. are always welcome).
Thanks for reading my initial post. I hope you find ways to embrace a science lifestyle and unleash your inner scientist!