AAAS Dumbs Down Science

Posted in Humor on January 22nd, 2010 by MadDog
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I’m much the same as Bill Gates in one respect. Bill had little formal training to facilitate his transformation from pimply-faced geek to gozillionaire geek. I have had little formal training in my transition from uneducated trailer-trash lout to the internationally recognized know-it-all that I am today. Yet, we both somehow get by.

I owe much of my success as a bore to my lifelong pathological obsession with reading science journals. I succumbed to this disease before the age of ten, when I began pilfering copies of Scientific American  from local newsstands. After my first introduction to law enforcement, I got a paper route and subscribed. While other illiterate preteens were looking at the pictures in comic books, I was looking at much more interesting pictures in my carefully preserved and continuously expanding library of science journals. At that point my comprehension level was approximately -97%.

Now that you have sufficient background information, I shall proceed with my tirade.

As I have previously bragged about, I am a card-carrying PROFESSIONAL  member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. How this came about, I have no idea. I suspect that the organization conducted a random search for suckers and my name popped up. I received my membership card, which I have proudly displayed to hundreds of perfect strangers and a one year subscription to Science,  the mouthpiece of the organization.

The gotcha, of course, came at subscription renewal time. I was torn between (A) forking out about Two Hundred U.S. Bucks to renew the subscription or (B) carrying around a membership card that was clearly expired, exposing me as an EX  Professional Scientist. I considered carefully modifying the expiration date on the card, but I’m far too ethical to do anything so shady . . . mmmm. Eunie, finally tiring of my whining, said, “Write the cheque and shut up!” I sighed a sigh of pure love. I like the rough stuff.

Anyway, I continued to wade through Scientific American,  for which my comprehension level was approaching 93% (more about that later) and added Science  each week, beginning at a CL (I’m getting tired of typing) of about -17%.

However, I’ve noticed lately that my CL has been rising exponentially. I attribute this not to any elevation of my brain power, since this is clearly not the case, as I’m reminded daily by my friends. I lay the blame directly on the publishers of science journals. I’m not a conspiracy geek, but I am  beginning to wonder . . .

As a case-in-point, I present the cover of Science for 27 November 2009:*

Aside from the fact that I do not believe that it’s seemly to portray living cells as if they were Simpson characters (a little compass?  come on!), the shameless use of Alfred E. Newman’s likeness on the cover is an obvious ploy to capture the Budweiser-swilling teenage crowd.

Not wishing to portray Science  as the originator of this massive dumbing-down of science, I should mention that Scientific American  was, indeed, the perpetrator, commencing with it’s infamous “Toy Boat” issue of August 1987:

To illustrate my premise I present these atrocities from that very issue.

Here we see, in this astonishingly cheesy Nikon ad, Albert Einstein equated to The Three Stooges:

This exposes the shameless money-grubbing attitude of the rag. But, wait! There’s more.

A few pages later we’re confronted by the ineptitude of Scientific American’s copy editors:

Is this a simple failure to comprehend the principles of editing? At the time, I heard an alternate theory bandied about. Some claimed, quite reasonably I believe, that this was a coded message from the notoriously leftist scientific community (all college graduates) to their Commie brethren cowardly hiding behind the Iron Curtain and lending succor to the nefarious masters of the Axis of Evil. Decoded by IBM’s Blue Canker Sore, the most powerful computer of the time, it reads (paraphrasing), “Get out now or you’ll soon be sweeping floors for a living.”

Okay, I have flogged Scientific American  enough, already.

Let’s get back to flogging Science.  Here is example of the silly pandering that’s dragging science down to the least common denominator and artificially inflating my CL:

Science’s increasing use of video game screenshots is a foolish attempt to simplify complex concepts to the level that any fool with a Nintendo can understand them. This goes against the entire history of science, which clearly discloses a philosophy that espouses the principle that nobody  who does not receive massive grants should be allowed to understand anything.

As further evidence, I present a mystifying illustration which had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of the article:

I call this the “Distraction Ploy”. It is clearly designed to distract the reader from the opaque complexity of the arguments in the text so that the author can pretend that he has actually explained something. “Hey, what do you want me to do? Draw Pictures?”, the author can claim.

Speaking of drawing pictures, here is a suitably illustrative example of what I’m talking about. Has anybody yet figured out what I’m talking about? No? Good, that’s my point exactly:

Now, instead of pondering imponderable mathematical equations which I comprehended not in the least, I’m forced, because of the fancy chart, to spend hours to achieve the same result – total bafflement. I prefer to arrive at total bafflement by the more elegant and traditional method of indecipherable equations with lots of curly lines mashed up with sharp angles and tiny little numbers.

Another area of concern is the use of famous personalities to try to convince us that science is “easy”:

Here, in this image, Mister Bean is preparing to inject a radioactive substance into the heart of a doubtlessly uninformed patient. The implied message is, “If Mister Bean can do cutting edge medical science, any boob can do it.” This goes against every cherished principle of science. Science is supposed to be hard,  that’s why they call it science. Duh! Haven’t you ever heard of Rocket Scientists? It’s all about job security. The Americans and Russians were falling all over themselves to hire the previously-evil Nazi scientists after the second humiliating surrender of Germany. Why? (one might ask) Duh! (I say again) Because science is hard!

Patience, I am nearly finished.

As a final, and I might add, convicting bit of evidence, here is a complex graphic that claims to explain the previously mysterious principles of “up”, “down”, “right” and “left”:

It also, once and for all, scientifically establishes the location of the human armpit. Hey, man. You don’t have to draw me pictures!

Give me an equation!

* There may be individuals who are so humourless that they fail to recognize the forgoing as a fun-loving jab at a prestigious organization. If you are one of those individuals and you are feeling litigious, I refer you to George Carlin’s lawyer.

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