Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Science is only about truth"

Coming back from a lecture the other day my friends and I were discussing how the speaker would have been more effective if he had been more dynamic and engaging. While I was interested enough in the subject matter to pay attention anyway, I could see why somebody would have been distracted by the somewhat bland manner of presentation.

Anyway, while we were walking, somebody walking behind us and unabashedly eavesdropping jumped into the conversation (which is money, btw, I completely respect the move) to make his point. His problem with our criticism was that to him science shouldn't need to engage the reader, because, in his own words, "science is only about the truth." While it was pretty funny to hear him say that, he's not the only one who shares that conviction. Listen, I realize that scientists can't explain every point using 5th grade terms, and that they need to be able to communicate efficiently with their colleagues. But I don't see any reason why they can't strive to be engaging to their audience and present their material in an interesting fashion. Many scientific articles and lectures are already presented in this manner, but there are still a certain subset of people that don't appear to believe that it matters, and it does. Science isn't only about the truth, it's also about making sure that people actually care enough to pay attention to it.