Saturday, April 22, 2017

The march of ides

The spouse and I will participate in the march for science on April 22nd, joining thousands of others who will. The march hopes to represent diversity in the scientific community and in that, diversity of ideas is most important. So, as we do march with a large group, our reasons and expectations from the march may differ from our fellows, and the ones listed in websites and community pages. This post elaborates on our personal agenda.

WE HAVE NO POLITICAL PURPOSE: I am an alien to America and I have not been around for an election in my home country; making me a non-partisan observer irrespective of stated beliefs, because I have no actions to back them up. Ethically, that should tell you that my political ideas are not to be respected beyond a basic measure. Even if my political ideas are obliged, and even if I may have stances that require protest and attention, our march is not for them this time. Our rights in this country are provided by treaties and ties between America and our home country, we do not march for them either. This march, despite its claims of non-partisanship, will be laughably partisan; that's just how the setting is. That is why it is very important that we do not draw lines in the sand and make 'us versus them' points in this process; liberals and conservatives do that every day on social media to heavily divisive effect. We do not wish to add to that. Partisan ideology is, at least partly, based on belief and science isn't.

WE DO NOT WANT TO BEAT OUR OWN SCIENCEY DRUMS: A substantial set of people of science tend to believe strongly in their intellectual exceptionalism and superiority. This has impacted their dialogue and their social responsibility, triggering a reaction where intelligence is treated as an elitist sin. They air their opinions, either in a hit-and-run fashion or in spaces that only serve to confirm their biases. They patronize more and empathize less. They may choose this platform to validate their feelings of intellectual superiority. We do not wish to be part of that set; it is not helpful. We also do not intend to impress other members of the scientific community with our genius signs (pun may be taken as intended) and nimble brains; the world and this march will have enough narcissism without our indulgence.  We believe that holding a post-graduate degree or working in science does not make one smarter, better or more noble, it just assigns your roles and responsibilities. Speaking of which...

WE WISH TO EMBRACE OUR PUBLIC ROLE AS SCIENTISTS: One of the main purposes of this march is to draw attention of the role of science in policymaking - we share that. We feel that the lack of empathetic communication between the scientific community and everyone else is responsible for the confusion over what constitutes science and what its role ought to be; the scientific community should take a majority of the blame in that. We wish to engage positively and learn as much as we teach. We wish to humanize scientists so they are looked upon as experienced in a specific subject rather than unfriendly wizards and witches in ivory towers. Scientists forget sometimes that the humanities are also an essential method of inquiry. Only a joint application of the two is useful to society; we should be aware of that as we make our point. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Basketball student sections

In the spirit of college football being is officially over for the season, I present my collated (incomplete) list of college basketball student section names. It took me a couple of weekends to put this together; some of these are tough to find and others are quite fluid with their names. Additions and corrections are warmly welcomed. Help me complete this list!