Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why You Don't Like Science

I've often wondered why so many people don't like science because I love science.  I love learning about my world and how it works.  I also love science fiction that involves science, that is known as "hard SF."  When I wrote Rock Killer I was trying to write a hard SF novel.

And I was wondering what would have cause most people to not like science.  Watching my kids grow up (who are all grown, now), I could see in them that they were little scientists.  They would sit and experiment for ages learning about gravity, friction, force all during their early play.  My oldest once stuck his head an a bowl and yelled.  I assumed he was seeing how the sound changed when he did that.  It was also hilarious to watch.

So if we're all born curious little scientists, why don't most people, it seems, like science?  I have a theory:

When you were a baby you were sitting in your highchair and you accidentally drop your spoon off the edge.  It falls to the floor.  And you think, "wow, that's interesting."  Your mother picks it up and sets it on the highchair tray again.  And your little mind is thinking, "I wonder if that works on the other side of the tray."  So you pick the spoon up and drop it off the other side of the tray.  And sure enough, it falls to the floor.  Your mother, a little bit exasperated now, picks it up and puts in on the tray.

Now you're really thinking.  You think you need one more data point to draw your curve.  Does it do the same off the front of the tray.  So you pick up the spoon and drop it off the front of the tray.  And your mother picks it up, puts it on the tray, and says, "Don't do that again."

Nonplussed, you think you've got this down.  But like all good scientists, you want to confirm your theory with reproducible results.  So you toss the spoon and it lands with a clang on the kitchen linoleum.  Pleased with your result you are shocked when your mother puts the spoon back on the tray and yells, "DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!"  And you suddenly decide with one data point that science is scary and no fun.

And that's why you don't like science.

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