Serious academics are full of shit

11 Aug, 2016 at 18:53 | Posted in Education & School | 2 Comments

These fun-hating, highfalutin’ smarties have fought to maintain an exclusive and exclusionary scholastic environment since the first Ivory Towers were built …

I may be a blogger/reporter/writer/occasional internet loudmouth today, but I also identify as a scientist, and to some degree as a serious academic. What that doesn’t make me is smarter, or more important, or more deserving of respect, than you. What that doesn’t make me is free from the responsibility to participate in society, or to explain how I am using your taxpayer dollars. And it sure as hell doesn’t absolve me of the obligation to treat my fellow human beings as equals.

liz-lemon-eye-rollAnd if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with academics rolling their eyes at other academics who take selfies with gators, I’ll tell you: scientists who engage with the public are put down, forced on the defensive, and labeled a “waste of time” by their Smarter, More Serious, and Definitely More Anonymous academic peers, pretty much all the time.

Here’s the thing about scientists: we’re all just a bunch of nerds. Like many of my peers, I was inspired to walk the path of science thanks to an excessive dose of science fiction as a child …

Of course, I got older and discovered that real science is not about fighting alien monsters or building interdimensional laser beams. It is about The Slog …

But scientists aren’t drawn to their profession because they love mind-numbing repetition and enormous spreadsheets full of meaningless numbers. They are drawn to science because they are inspired by big ideas, or because they are obsessed with a burning question, or because they can’t stop dreaming of an awesome technology. In other words, because they are nerds who love science. So why are scientists giving other scientists shit for live-tweeting conferences, writing op-eds, doing public outreach, and finding creative ways to share their passion with the world and make that day-to-day slog more bearable?

The answer is complex. It involves enduring cultural norms, weird academic incentive structures, and institutionalized fears about the democratization of scholarship.

Maddie Stone


  1. Sounds like a modern re-interpretation of Holberg’s ‘Erasmus Montanus’, which is, also, a great and puzzling play 😉

    • The counterargument to this are the many “scientists” called economists whose “public engagement” mainly benefits their own egos and regularly provides bogus intellectual cover for astonishingly wrong headed policies.

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