Over at Science Careers a self proclaimed scientist/comedian Adam Ruben discusses why he used humor in science.
“Blah blah citric acid cycle blah blah succinic dehydrogenase blah blah DOONESBURY CARTOON blah blah pyruvate.”
More importantly, he discusses when he stopped.
“My adviser never outright said so, but I knew what he was thinking: You had time to make the goat picture, but you didn’t have time to improve the actual science? I wanted to explain that, in the same way that people who are full can still eat dessert and claim it’s destined for “a different stomach,” science-improving and goat-Photoshopping were not mutually exclusive activities, but I didn’t think it would bolster my cause.”
He also ends on a somewhat sobering note:
“Just don’t use humor in grant applications. There’s no need—scientific funding is already a joke.”
Worth thinking about for sure!
Read more of his column Experimental Errors!
Here on NiB we often mention the problems that science is having with public perception. From controversies over biological collections, to finding extra terrestrial life in the octopus , to more basics like teaching evolution and vaccinations.
We as a group have trouble relating to the public what we do and why we do it. And it truly is a shame.
In response a recent post on Yale Climate Connections made a desperate call for scientists to do just that.
The article also introduces “Grad Slam“. Started in the University of California system, it asks graduate students to take years of academic toil and work and to present it free of jargon or technical lingo. In just three short minutes. It’s like a Ted talk, an exit seminar and an elevator speech had a love child. Check it out below, and consider throwing one of your own.