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real scientists

Leslie Kay lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu
Sun Aug 28 12:02:47 EST 1994

In article <199408281320.GAA19625 at net.bio.net>,
But my good woman, you are a man! <ADREGER at UCS.INDIANA.EDU> wrote:
>I like Leslie Kay's question:  what is a _real_ scientist?  In trying to
>come with an answer, I keep coming back to another question:
>What is at stake there?  What does one get for being recognized as a
>_real_ scientist -- and who IS it that gets to say who a _real_
>scientist is?

It seems that society removes itself from "real" science to answer
many of these questions.  The three questions all have to do with
being "accepted" as a real scientist.  I remember _way_ back in
elementary school, when we learned that a scientist follows the
scientific method, which your example of the bread machine cookbook
does nicely.  However, many of us (or maybe all of us) know that
often during an experiment we don't follow the scientific method
to reach conclusions, design the experiment, and so forth, flying
often by intuition and then filling in the blanks.  But perhaps in
the end when everything is put together, it seems we have followed
the scientific method.  Does a creation "scientist?"
>E.g., is a creation scientist a _real_ scientist -- or is s/he not because
>(a) s/he doesn't do the activities we expect of a real scientist (in
>which case, is a scientist who has become a nothing-but administrator no
>longer a scientist?);
>(b) his/her work does not fit with the -- dare I say it -- dominant paradigm?
>If that is the answer -- then does one have to "go with the gang" to be a
>_real scientist_ and, if so, what implications does that have for women
>scientists like, e.g. Barbara McClintock?

I'm glad you mentioned Barbara McClintock, she was always a hero of mine.
Just an aside, on my first day working for GenBank in 1982, Walter Goad
told me that Barbara McClintock had probably made the most significant
contribution to genetics in history, but hadn't received any recognition
for it.  I learned what I could about her (the biography written by
......I forget for the moment..... is quite wonderful "A feeling for
the organism"), and found her to be a _real_ scientist, in the true
ideal sense of the word.  This feeling for the organism is not 
part of the scientific method, but maybe it should be.  How would
one describe it,  scientifically.  I was overjoyed when she received
the Nobel, and very sad upon her death.  However, the New York Times
ran her obit on the front page (if I remember correctly).

Leslie Kay
lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu

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