I thought of the title of this blog post before deciding what to write. I’m led to believe that having a provocative title results in hits and Retweets.
Any tabloid heading that starts ‘Is this….’, ‘Could this be…’ etc. can be safely answered ‘No’
OK, so I’m not a tabloid, but I think that the theory still holds for blog posts.
I thought of the title after reading “Why the Geek movement is bad for science“. I’m not going to discuss this post – however, I’d highly recommend you skip that blog post and instead read Martin Robbins‘ superb paragraph by paragraph response: “Is the Geek Movement bad for science?“.
Seriously, stop what you are doing and read Martin’s post. And did you notice the question in the title? Therefore, the answer must be “no”.
The only thing I’ll say is that I thought the original blog post that sparked all this off was a bit “quote mine-y” and “straw man-y”. I’ll leave it at that. If you know what these terms mean, you’ll be able to find examples in the blog post.
I self-identify as a “science geek”. I like the word “geek”. I don’t recall joining any “Geek movement”, but still, I call myself a geek.
But there does seem to be a bit of backlash against the use of this word. The first time I saw this backlash was in an article at The Telegraph: Alice Roberts hits out at science ‘geeks’.
I think the word “geek” is a “reclaimed” word – it used to be an insult. Now it isn’t.
And personally I use it to describe anyone who is passionate about any subject. I call my foodie friends “food geeks”. I call my wine expert friends “wine geeks”. I call my real ale loving friends “beer geeks”. They don’t get offended….or at least they don’t appear to be offended…
I certainly don’t restrict the word geek to just science or computing. If you use the majority of your spare time to read about (or participate in) a particular area – i.e. it is your hobby – you are a geek. Be proud! I use most of my spare time to read about science and study physics. I’m definitely a science geek.
This backlash against a particular label is not a new phenomenon. There was a similar backlash to the word “skeptic”. I’ve actually started being more careful when I use the word “skeptic”. Purely because people who have never heard of Skepticism or Skeptics In The Pub think of the other type of skeptic: evolution skeptic, climate change skeptic. (I prefer to refer to these people as deniers.)
[This was highlighted to me when I went to a fascinating talk by David Penney about fossils in amber. (I recommend this book, by the way - stunning, beautiful images.)
After the talk I approached David to get his contact details - I thought the talk would be great for the Skeptics In The Pub crowd. I asked him if he'd heard of Skeptics In The Pub. He hadn't. And when I suggested his talk would be good for such an event....well, let's say he wasn't exactly enthusiastic. Perhaps he thought he was going to get a grilling from a bunch of evolution deniers?! That reminds me....I must get in touch with David and try to explain!]
However, I don’t think this applies to the word “geek”. As I said above, I feel geek is a reclaimed word that is losing its effect as an insult and now is used more to describe someone’s hobby.
And finally…Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince
I’ll add my support to Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince - I love what they do. They’ve done more to popularise science in the last few years than anyone I can think of. I’ve been to a lot of Robin’s various gigs, and to each gig I’ve taken people with me that aren’t science geeks. And they’ve loved the shows. They’ve been entertained and they have discovered that science isn’t boring. One of my friends picked up a Marcus Chown book after one of the gigs!
Didn’t Carl Sagan get criticised for spending more time publicising and promoting science than doing science?
We need people like that.
- Brian Cox and Robin Ince: Politicians must not elevate mere opinion over science.
- @HCDayantis: Why the Geek movement is bad for science.
- Martin Robbins: Is the Geek Movement bad for science?.
- Brian Cox’s response: http://sci2pol.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/why-the-geek-movement-is-bad-for-science/#comment-2.
- Mark Henderson’s response: http://sci2pol.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/why-the-geek-movement-is-bad-for-science/#comment-6.
- Jonathan Butterworth: Science is not political, except when it is.
- ‘Womble’: It’s a culture not a movement.
- Chris Chambers: The ‘geek movement’ is a straw man.
- ‘To the left of centre’: Robin Ince and Brian Cox.
- Sandra: Dear Science: it’s not you, it’s me.
- Ken Perrott: Historians and sociologists lecture scientists – about science.