Do You Have My Back?

This tweet by @johnroderick is funny but also something I find to be antagonistic, especially when taken in the context of several tweets along the same lines. (Could be it’s the wrong time of day, I need food, or my caffeine levels are wrong, or just that the snark is strong in this one, but…)

Look, nerds, I appreciate you like Star Wars and everything, but WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT GRAVITY IS! #GoBackToDoingScience

Or maybe it’s really just the time of the season, what with all of the politics in the air, and most of it smelling rather foul to me, because of the anti-science taint to it. Science just doesn’t seem to sit well with those on the far right, but this rejection of science is without much thought or true conviction. If one were to really distrust science, one would not be using GPS, which relies on relativity. Or go get a flu shot, as the recurring danger from the flu is a product of evolution. Or get any prescription medications and its oh-so-sciency double-blind testing. Or take advantage a whole host of other improvements that science has afforded us. (The fact that @johnroderick is interested in the nature of gravity probably mean he’s not in that group, but still … Sending us nerds of to do science for him?)

So this whole “get back to doing science” kind of hits me where I live. I’ve seen budgetary fallout from recent events, and I know I’m not alone in that regard. But I also know that a tweet is not a substitute for actual action or activism. I’m a scientist. So I want to know: Do you have my back?

Are you going to fund me? That is, do you recognize the value of research so that you won’t complain that some fraction of a penny from your tax dollar goes to funding science? And that scientists — not politicians, nor religious leaders, nor fat, lying and/or bald pundits, nor even the general public — decide what constitutes good science? You won’t sulk if the results aren’t what you or your ideology want them to be? You won’t pout when the bulk of basic research doesn’t pan out, because investigating the unknown means you — by definition — don’t know what you will find?

If you really want nerds to get back to doing science, provide us with the atmosphere for doing science. Throw those bums who make it unduly difficult to do science out of office. The ones who raise decidedly non-scientific (or unscientific) objections to science. Who wouldn’t know science if it bit them on the ass and said, “I’m science!” The ones in the pocket of anti-science industries. The ones that muffle scientists whose results are inconvenient. Throw them out.

If you want us nerds to do science, you have to let us do science. Otherwise, go do it yourself.