We Need to Talk–About Science

One might argue that science is enjoying a bit of an upswing in terms of pop culture. Science fiction movies are in at the moment, documentaries about actual scientists are also box office hits, Bill Nye is a household name, and there’s The Big Bang Theory on television (Not a fan.  Don’t have cable.  Also it’s painful to watch other people think Asperger’s is funny.)

So maybe it’s cool to be a scientist- at least in some abstract, aren’t nerds cute kind of way.  But what about science itself?  I’m sorry to say science is not sexy.  The plodding work involved in the scientific method is not glamorous. Lab work is downright tedious.  And that whole thing about having to replicate scientific results—how boring.

But we don’t all have to be scientists to appreciate what science brings to us ordinary humans—a way of understanding the world around us.  A way of possibly even improving the world around us.  This is not new, right?  From the polio vaccine to Tang to solar panels, science brings us new technology that improves the life of everyone. But we also have to have the wisdom to use what we are given.

My own personal favorite celebrity scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, embraces pop science, saying it gives him a vehicle to communicate to a larger audience.  He urges scientists to learn to communicate better, to reach people who may have other things on their minds than the physics of Star Trek. “You testify to Congress and you say they don’t get it there’s something wrong with them. Noooooo. There’s something missing in your lexicon because everybody else is fluent here.”

Well, it’s past time for learning to talk about science. We have completely failed at imparting even a rudimentary standard of scientific knowledge on the general public.  I see no other possible conclusion when the incoming Trump administration is riddled with anti-science buffoons.  This goes well beyond a Republican tendency to prioritize short term economy building over long term environmental consequences.  We have an incoming administration of anti-vax climate change deniers, and I’m scared.

Let’s take global warming.  On record as rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-created temperature increases, we have, based on my 4 minutes of research, Pence, Pruitt, Perry, Carson, Mulvaney, and Sessions.  So much for the 97% scientific consensus.  We’re screwed.

I’m not really sure how we got here.  Was it Oprah?  Was it Oprah giving platforms to anti-vax hot bod turned concerned mom Jenny McCarthy and Dr. (there really is nothing behind the curtain but I’m pretty and I have an MD) Oz? Was it evangelical-fueled anti-intellectualism insisting God and Einstein couldn’t both be right? Was it the dumbing- down of America that began once we won the space race? Reagan-era materialism over knowledge?

Is it just our own self-centered natures, unwillingness to embrace unfortunate truths, the stubborn human trait of lack of foresight?  Are we all like Donald Trump who complained that those irritating scientists were threatening to take away his hairspray? “So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?…I say no way, folks. No way. No way.” If only Donald Trump’s apartment were a closed system. I’d be the first to encourage him to use all the hair spray he wants.

But none of us live in a closed system.  We’re all in it together.  Well, you people who live in Miami are going first, but the rest of us could very well suffer real consequences if scientific policies backslide over the next four years.  I wish I had some sage advice as to how to temper the impending apocalypse, but all I can say is stay angry, and stay vigilant.  And help us, Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’re our only hope.

 

 

 

We Need to Talk-About Science

One might argue that science is enjoying a bit of an upswing in terms of pop culture. Science fiction movies are in at the moment, documentaries about actual scientists are also box office hits, Bill Nye is a household name, and there’s The Big Bang Theory on television (Not a fan.  Don’t have cable.  Also it’s painful to watch other people think Asperger’s is funny.)

So maybe it’s cool to be a scientist- at least in some abstract, aren’t nerds cute kind of way.  But what about science itself?  I’m sorry to say science is not sexy.  The plodding work involved in the scientific method is not glamorous. Lab work is downright tedious.  And that whole thing about having to replicate scientific results—how boring.

But we don’t all have to be scientists to appreciate what science brings to us ordinary humans—a way of understanding the world around us.  A way of possibly even improving the world around us.  This is not new, right?  From the polio vaccine to Tang to solar panels, science brings us new technology that improves the life of everyone. But we also have to have the wisdom to use what we are given.

My own personal favorite celebrity scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, embraces pop science, saying it gives him a vehicle to communicate to a larger audience.  He urges scientists to learn to communicate better, to reach people who may have other things on their minds than the physics of Star Trek. “You testify to Congress and you say they don’t get it there’s something wrong with them. Noooooo. There’s something missing in your lexicon because everybody else is fluent here.”

Well, it’s past time for learning to talk about science. We have completely failed at imparting even a rudimentary standard of scientific knowledge on the general public.  I see no other possible conclusion when the incoming Trump administration is riddled with anti-science buffoons.  This goes well beyond a Republican tendency to prioritize short term economy building over long term environmental consequences.  We have an incoming administration of anti-vax climate change deniers, and I’m scared.

Let’s take global warming.  On record as rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-created temperature increases, we have, based on my 4 minutes of research, Pence, Pruitt, Perry, Carson, Mulvaney, and Sessions.  So much for the 97% scientific consensus.  We’re screwed.

I’m not really sure how we got here.  Was it Oprah?  Was it Oprah giving platforms to anti-vax hot bod turned concerned mom Jenny McCarthy and Dr. (there really is nothing behind the curtain but I’m pretty and I have an MD) Oz? Was it evangelical-fueled anti-intellectualism insisting God and Einstein couldn’t both be right? Was it the dumbing- down of America that began once we won the space race? Reagan-era materialism over knowledge?

Is it just our own self-centered natures, unwillingness to embrace unfortunate truths, the stubborn human trait of lack of foresight?  Are we all like Donald Trump who complained that those irritating scientists were threatening to take away his hairspray? “So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?…I say no way, folks. No way. No way.” If only Donald Trump’s apartment were a closed system. I’d be the first to encourage him to use all the hair spray he wants.

But none of us live in a closed system.  We’re all in it together.  Well, you people who live in Miami are going first, but the rest of us could very well suffer real consequences if scientific policies backslide over the next four years.  I wish I had some sage advice as to how to temper the impending apocalypse, but all I can say is stay angry, and stay vigilant.  And help us, Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’re our only hope.

 

 

 

We Need to Talk-About Science

One might argue that science is enjoying a bit of an upswing in terms of pop culture. Science fiction movies are in at the moment, documentaries about actual scientists are also box office hits, Bill Nye is a household name, and there’s The Big Bang Theory on television (Not a fan.  Don’t have cable.  Also it’s painful to watch other people think Asperger’s is funny.)

So maybe it’s cool to be a scientist- at least in some abstract, aren’t nerds cute kind of way.  But what about science itself?  I’m sorry to say science is not sexy.  The plodding work involved in the scientific method is not glamorous. Lab work is downright tedious.  And that whole thing about having to replicate scientific results—how boring.

But we don’t all have to be scientists to appreciate what science brings to us ordinary humans—a way of understanding the world around us.  A way of possibly even improving the world around us.  This is not new, right?  From the polio vaccine to Tang to solar panels, science brings us new technology that improves the life of everyone. But we also have to have the wisdom to use what we are given.

My own personal favorite celebrity scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, embraces pop science, saying it gives him a vehicle to communicate to a larger audience.  He urges scientists to learn to communicate better, to reach people who may have other things on their minds than the physics of Star Trek. “You testify to Congress and you say they don’t get it there’s something wrong with them. Noooooo. There’s something missing in your lexicon because everybody else is fluent here.”

Well, it’s past time for learning to talk about science. We have completely failed at imparting even a rudimentary standard of scientific knowledge on the general public.  I see no other possible conclusion when the incoming Trump administration is riddled with anti-science buffoons.  This goes well beyond a Republican tendency to prioritize short term economy building over long term environmental consequences.  We have an incoming administration of anti-vax climate change deniers, and I’m scared.

Let’s take global warming.  On record as rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-created temperature increases, we have, based on my 4 minutes of research, Pence, Pruitt, Perry, Carson, Mulvaney, and Sessions.  So much for the 97% scientific consensus.  We’re screwed.

I’m not really sure how we got here.  Was it Oprah?  Was it Oprah giving platforms to anti-vax hot bod turned concerned mom Jenny McCarthy and Dr. (there really is nothing behind the curtain but I’m pretty and I have an MD) Oz? Was it evangelical-fueled anti-intellectualism insisting God and Einstein couldn’t both be right? Was it the dumbing- down of America that began once we won the space race? Reagan-era materialism over knowledge?

Is it just our own self-centered natures, unwillingness to embrace unfortunate truths, the stubborn human trait of lack of foresight?  Are we all like Donald Trump who complained that those irritating scientists were threatening to take away his hairspray? “So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?…I say no way, folks. No way. No way.” If only Donald Trump’s apartment were a closed system. I’d be the first to encourage him to use all the hair spray he wants.

But none of us live in a closed system.  We’re all in it together.  Well, you people who live in Miami are going first, but the rest of us could very well suffer real consequences if scientific policies backslide over the next four years.  I wish I had some sage advice as to how to temper the impending apocalypse, but all I can say is stay angry, and stay vigilant.  And help us, Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’re our only hope.

 

 

 

We Need to Talk-About Science

One might argue that science is enjoying a bit of an upswing in terms of pop culture. Science fiction movies are in at the moment, documentaries about actual scientists are also box office hits, Bill Nye is a household name, and there’s The Big Bang Theory on television (Not a fan.  Don’t have cable.  Also it’s painful to watch other people think Asperger’s is funny.)

So maybe it’s cool to be a scientist- at least in some abstract, aren’t nerds cute kind of way.  But what about science itself?  I’m sorry to say science is not sexy.  The plodding work involved in the scientific method is not glamorous. Lab work is downright tedious.  And that whole thing about having to replicate scientific results—how boring.

But we don’t all have to be scientists to appreciate what science brings to us ordinary humans—a way of understanding the world around us.  A way of possibly even improving the world around us.  This is not new, right?  From the polio vaccine to Tang to solar panels, science brings us new technology that improves the life of everyone. But we also have to have the wisdom to use what we are given.

My own personal favorite celebrity scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, embraces pop science, saying it gives him a vehicle to communicate to a larger audience.  He urges scientists to learn to communicate better, to reach people who may have other things on their minds than the physics of Star Trek. “You testify to Congress and you say they don’t get it there’s something wrong with them. Noooooo. There’s something missing in your lexicon because everybody else is fluent here.”

Well, it’s past time for learning to talk about science. We have completely failed at imparting even a rudimentary standard of scientific knowledge on the general public.  I see no other possible conclusion when the incoming Trump administration is riddled with anti-science buffoons.  This goes well beyond a Republican tendency to prioritize short term economy building over long term environmental consequences.  We have an incoming administration of anti-vax climate change deniers, and I’m scared.

Let’s take global warming.  On record as rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-created temperature increases, we have, based on my 4 minutes of research, Pence, Pruitt, Perry, Carson, Mulvaney, and Sessions.  So much for the 97% scientific consensus.  We’re screwed.

I’m not really sure how we got here.  Was it Oprah?  Was it Oprah giving platforms to anti-vax hot bod turned concerned mom Jenny McCarthy and Dr. (there really is nothing behind the curtain but I’m pretty and I have an MD) Oz? Was it evangelical-fueled anti-intellectualism insisting God and Einstein couldn’t both be right? Was it the dumbing- down of America that began once we won the space race? Reagan-era materialism over knowledge?

Is it just our own self-centered natures, unwillingness to embrace unfortunate truths, the stubborn human trait of lack of foresight?  Are we all like Donald Trump who complained that those irritating scientists were threatening to take away his hairspray? “So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?…I say no way, folks. No way. No way.” If only Donald Trump’s apartment were a closed system. I’d be the first to encourage him to use all the hair spray he wants.

But none of us live in a closed system.  We’re all in it together.  Well, you people who live in Miami are going first, but the rest of us could very well suffer real consequences if scientific policies backslide over the next four years.  I wish I had some sage advice as to how to temper the impending apocalypse, but all I can say is stay angry, and stay vigilant.  And help us, Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’re our only hope.

 

 

 

When Trump is Your President

Close elections are tough.  Close elections where the majority of people who voted actually lost are brutal.  If you are like me and in the majority, you’re upset right now.  I understand.  You feel personally betrayed by every neighbor, friend, colleague, and relative who voted Donald Trump. You blame the media.  You blame the DNC.  You blame the RNC.  You blame third party voters.  You blame Bernie Sanders.  You blame Hillary Clinton.  You blame your racist uncle.  I’m with you.  You are genuinely fearful of a new era of discrimination against people based on their gender, their race, their religion, who they love, or where they pee.  I think your fear is justified.  You lay awake thinking about the nuclear codes in the hands of a man with the emotional maturity of a four year old.  A period of mourning is appropriate.  But let’s not be paralyzed by the apocalypse before it happens.

Look, I’m not here to tell you that everything is going to be ok.  I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter who is president because that’s not true.  Besides it’s nihilistic.  The first order of the day is to fight back the existential dread of the dawn.  Some of us do this every day anyway, but if you’re new, I’ll give you a minute to catch up.  I’ll even wait until you finish that bottle of tequila.

I’m certainly not going to tell you it will be ok because you are a good person, and God is in control, and you are in his favor, and everything happens for a reason.  That’s nihilism too.  Dressed up like a big red poppy. If you are a person of faith, I hope your faith gives you enough strength to accept the hard truth that religion is, by design, the institutionalization of complacency.  If it guides you to action, great.  If you give away your personal responsibility to a higher power, then get out of my God Damn way.

It is perfectly ok to throw one hell of a tantrum.  Scream, curse, drink, smoke, run, cry.  You’ve got about 3 months to do it.

But you may not spend the next four years prostrate at the grave of your dreams.  I guarantee you Hillary Clinton won’t be.

You may not renounce your citizenship.  How dare you?  The democratic process is not over because you got an I VOTED sticker.   You don’t get to stop being an American because your candidate didn’t win.

And let’s just stop right here for a moment with the jokes about how we won’t need a wall because immigrants won’t come here under a Donald Trump presidency.  It’s not funny to imply that watching your children die of starvation due to US trade policy is somehow a worse fate than a Donald Trump Presidency.  It’s not.  It’s not worse than living in a dictatorship either.  The fact that you do live in a democracy is a privilege most people don’t have. So get a grip.  You have duties.

And don’t say Trump is not your president.  Because by doing that, you absolve him of accountability.  It is only because he is your president that you have the opportunity to hold him accountable.  And he must be held accountable for each and everything he does from here on out.  Held accountable by you.

You don’t have the luxury of saying there is nothing more you can do.  Do you know who your senators and congressional representatives are?  They are your allies, no matter who elected them.  They do represent you if you voted for them or not.  Do you know their email addresses?  Their phone numbers?  Do they know you by name?  If not, then you have plenty of work to do.  You must demand that they mitigate the Tump presidency.  That’s your job.

Everyone mourns at their own pace.  Take some time.  But then pick yourself up and pull yourself together.  Be an American.

How to Handle Heathens in the Deep South

If you are not from the Deep South, you might find it odd that blessings are bestowed upon you when you are buying french fries at the McDonald’s drive through, but I assure you it is considered proper manners here.

What seems to really stump people is dealing with those of no faith.  I have yet to find an etiquette guide to help handle heathens in Dixie. I thought I might offer some pointers to you good people because I am not the only atheist you know. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but next time you are at a secular event where you are supposed to bow your head during the illegal Christian prayer, you know in the next few days, look around and see who is looking around to see who is looking around. I’m never the only one.

Do not say you’ll pray for me.  Look. You can pray to whomever about whatever in the privacy of your home for as long as you like.  But when you say you will pray for me, you’ve just found a really easy way (for you) to tell me everything I think and feel is morally wrong, I am irredeemable, and you’re telling God.  Nobody likes a snitch. “Have a blessed day,” is a habit for you, I know.  But it’s really no better.

Do not say you want a dialog and then just preach at me.  I know the difference. And none of that How to Convert an Atheist in 10 Easy Steps shit.  I hope you didn’t pay money for that book.

Do not quote the Bible at me.  Yes, I have read it. Damn.  Almost as long as The Stand. And a whole bunch of other books, too.  Interested in book club?

Do not assume I am angry at God.  Are you angry at fairies?

Do not tell me this is why I am single. I’m doing fine, thanks.  Actually, I usually date other atheists.  There are more of us than you know.  We have parties and listen to death metal. Naked.

Do not ask me if my life is meaningless or dark or filled with fear of death.  I assure you it is not. If I told you it was, would that validate your own belief that God is necessary?  Do you really need that?

Do not ask me to go to church with you.  I know you think your particular church and your particular minister can teach me something I don’t already know.  They can’t.  If you’d like to spend time with me, I’d love to go for Chai.

Do not tell me I should believe “just in case” so I have insurance against going to hell.  I am going to respect you enough to assume the threat of hell is not the only reason you believe.  Why should it be mine?

Do not ask me why, if I have no fear of eternal damnation, I’m not out there killing people.  Seriously, do not ask me that.  It scares the shit out of me. You please keep going to church. Do that Wednesday thing, too.

Do not start in on evolution without realizing I have an anthropology degree, and I will nail you to the cross in your living room.  I do not have time for your why are there still monkeys crap.  Read a book. No. One of the other ones.

Do not put crosses up all over my children’s public school.  Unless there is a vampire problem.  Then it’s fine. Student safety should be everyone’s first priority.

And don’t tell me I am sending my children to hell; they tell me that every time they get in trouble and I cut off the internet. It’s not working for them either.

Lastly, just be aware that not everyone around you is a believer.  Most of us atheists look pretty normal. The universe is not your own private house of worship.  It would be especially polite if you remembered this when you vote.