One of the main reasons I started this blog was to bridge the gap between the science community and the general public; due to many misconceptions that people hold about who scientists are. Just recently, two prime examples of science misconceptions have surfaced in mainstream and social media : women in science, and religion in science.
Women and Science
Sir Tim Hunt a British Scientist, made disparaging comments about women working alongside men in the lab. At the World Conference of Science Journalists, on June 9, 2015, this Nobel Prize winning biochemist said “three things happen when they are in the lab; you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and you criticize them, they cry”. He later apologized for his statement, essentially by stating that he was speaking from his personal experiences with women in his labs. He still however maintained that genders should be separated in order to not undermine the science; in effort to minimize distractions.
Social media lit up, with women scientist on twitter using the hash-tag “distractinglysexy” to convey their disdain for the remarks made, by Sir Tim Hunt. You can read more about it here. This goes to show that women still experience much gender bias in science. Even when the playing field is supposed to be leveled, they are often still viewed as objects of love or as being too emotional to be practical enough to conduct good science.
Religion and Science
Another fallacy of science is that a person cannot be both a scientist and believe in God. That science and religion are mutually exclusive. However it would surprise many to know that Pope Francis is indeed a Chemist. Before the papacy he earned his Masters degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.
In school, we are taught that many early scientist were shunned and persecuted by the Catholic church for their findings. This is a partial truth, in actuality the Church as supported educational institutions including the study of science. In addition, many scientist also are devout Christians or followers of other God centered faiths. Most famously we have Gregor Mendel, Johannes Kepler – mathematician and astronomer, Nicholas Copernicus – astronomer, and Isaac Newton.
For example, Gregor Mendel was an Augustinian priest and botanist. He lived in the 19th century, from 1822 to 1884, and is credited with being the founder of genetics. He discovered the principles of genetics with his hybridization studies on the garden pea (Pisum Sativum). From him we got Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance and Mendelian Genetics. His conducted his work in the garden (glasshouse) of his monastery.
One thing science teaches us is to not be biased. Bias is the number one foe of good science, because it takes away from its credibility and allows for the overlooking of error. Various types of people become scientists, and the stereotypical male nerd type is not necessarily the standard, at least not anymore.