I am scientist, hear me roar

23 04 2015

Dear Public,

I am a scientist that studies epithelial cell development. Guess what? I can tell you a lot about epithelial cell development. The different types of epithelial cells. Their roles in tissue and organ development as well as what we know about their roles in cancer and other diseases. I can tell you about how basic immunology works from being in an immunology lab. The similarities and difference between invertebrate and vertebrate organisms. Why studying an invertebrate model is so useful. I can also tell you a whole lot of what we don’t know. Basically we know shit. Even small, relatively genetically simple organisms such as Drosophila are an amazingly complex system. Don’t even get me started on how complex human bodies are.

As a scientist that studies cell biology, I use alot of genetic techniques used by many researchers in a diverse field, from agriculture to ecology to cell biology. I know about DNA and the techniques used to manipulate it. I know how to read biomedical research and basic science developmental articles. From over a decade of experience I have learned which questions to ask, what controls to look for etc.

Wanna know what I don’t know? I don’t shit about any other scientific field. Being an expert in cell biology does not make me an expert in nutrition. Or climate change. Or geology. Or astronomy. Or medicine. Or farming. Or computers. Or coding.

Similarly, being a cardiac surgeon does not make you an expert in anything other than cardiac surgery. Despite what Grey Anatomy might portray. Or Dr. Oz.

I also understand that you don’t trust some institutions. Historically, power was in the hands of white males and I understand that some government institutions condoned very bad behaviour. As a women and person of color, I understand systemic bias first hand.

What I don’t understand is why you trust someone making a shitload of money off of you versus the  thousand and thousands of people who work doing the research, often with poor wages and little job security.

Most of the research published is done by grad students and postdocs. The PIs are too busy writing grants to try and keep the lab afloat.  We don’t make a lot of money. Lots and lots of non-scientists make way more than I do. When I try and explain to you why Jenny McCarthy or Dr.Oz are lying for the purpose of selling their books and making money, the accusation that I”m in the pocket of Monsantos or Big Pharm pisses me the fuck off. I am not the one living in Hollywood and going on exotic vacations. Trust me I wish I could lie to you because then I would make a shit load of money instead of worrying about how I am going to pay for my kids activities / new shoes / clothes.

Let me tell you. I do not have multimillion dollar book sales. I do not have my own TV show, I don’t even have a job unless you the public feel my research is worthy. Yet you don’t trust me or the thousands of others like me that spend their days trying to find out the why to so many questions. You trust the asshole who lies and contradicts himself  all the time. What the fuck. For every “coverup” that was real, someone blew the whistle! Because you can not pay us enough to keep our mouth shut. Do you really think I am sitting here on twitter or this blog because I am getting paid? Right now I would rather being doing some yoga.

Please dear public stop being so fucking stupid. Ask questions but remember that asking questions and being cynical does not equal critical thinking. Critical thinking requires you to understand the answers to your question and whether the answer really does address the question. How does the information you have integrate with what you know to be true. Stop being lazy.

For the last time, we scientist are not perfect. Just like in medicine and society at large,  we have the assholes, the frauds, and the cheats within our community. Look at what the person has to gain. What do I have to gain? If you listen to this my blood pressure will not rise to the point that my head is popping off from anger at your accusation that I am making money or am in someones pocket.

Please and thank you.




One response

27 04 2015

Well written. So true. One more step – this needs to be broadcast so ‘the public’ will have the opportunity to read it. What about Facebook? Or send in to the National Post, or The Globe and Mail . . .? If there is a way for someone else to publicize this, let me know.
And – Thank You for taking the time to post this.

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