Gimme back my bullets

An anonymous PhD student:

No one knows how scientific research is done.  We don’t really use the scientific method you learned in 7th grade science (if you learned it at all…).  You think a topic is interesting/problematic/could cure cancer/is generally cool, you do a literature search to see if other people have had the same thoughts and then you design an experiment/model/equation/computer program to test it out.  Next comes some stabbing around in the dark, formulation of ideas, writing of papers, peer review, and general discussion of the topic in your field. It’s a messy and highly iterative process that most people don’t ever get to experience.


People’s eyes glaze over when my peers and I talk about what we do because we’re mired in the details of scientific enterprise, but without people like us, the overly-educated “elites” who do science, the 21st Century way of life would be just a dream. And if you don’t like us and think we’re a bunch of commies trying to trample on “real America,” I’d like your cellphone and everything you own with Velcro back, because those were our ideas that you obviously don’t appreciate.

It’s worth reading the whole thing.

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4 Responses to Gimme back my bullets

  1. Arrakis says:

    Ugh, the part you linked is a garbage.
    The first paragraph describes exactly scientific method. And in the second one some random kid pretends that he actually had anything to do with achievement of past generations of scientists when in fact as a PHD student his impact on science is marginal at best and non-existent at worst.
    Cellphones and velcro were certainly NOT your ideas dude, and pretending they were makes you sound like a real douche, why not tell us what YOU have achieved?
    I’ll certainly pass on the rest.

  2. David Kroll says:

    Gimme back my bullets. Heh.

    Also the Ford F-350, all of NASCAR, and beer.

    What I didn’t understand is who wrote the essay – was it Colin or was it a Sullivan reader?

  3. DBC says:

    The essay was an email from a reader. They’ve been running “About my job” letters all week. There’s one from an Indologist that’s pretty interesting, too.

  4. mangrist says:

    I agree, Arrakis, that the 1st paragraph is pretty much the scientific method. And while I wouldn’t call the rest “garbage,” it is clearly a rant. That said, I think it’s a sympathetic rant. Another example of this ilk is “if you don’t believe in evolution, you shouldn’t take antibiotics.” In other words, just as it would be hypocritical for Christopher Hitchens to throw his lot in with God on his deathbed because he’s afraid of dying, so too is it hypocritical to avail oneself of the fruits of science if one has contempt for that science.