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Celebra-scientists (the popular television personality scientists) are annoying as all get out. I'm watching the National Geographic channel right now. There's an overly enthusiastic herpetologist (I didn't catch his name) running around the bush on various continents screaming like a five year old on Christmas morning every time he finds something. Then he goes rushing in to pick it up. "It" being a very large and/or poisonous snake. Mean while, the natives that he's using as guides and porters are standing well back of these animals that they have to live with every day knowing all too well exactly what they are capable of. I wonder what they think about the fuss and the film crews?

Celebra-scientists obviously play up to the cameras and for someone who's spent time toiling in the field and lab it really grates on the nerves. (I suppose it's also annoying because I'm generally a reserved person.) Science is exciting but not because you get to go crashing through the jungle facing death at every turn. It's exciting because you get to learn something about the world around you that you didn't know before. The made for television drama of celebra-scientists seems to me to be a betrayal of scientific principal. You observe, you hypothesize, you test your hypothesis, you get your results, and then you do it all over again. You don't go screaming you head off every time you find something.

I totally understand being excited about and dedicated to your field of study. I myself can't help poking in the leaf litter or getting up close and personal with the plant life whenever I go for a walk in the woods (by design I'm not interested in things that are mobile other than to know which things I need to walk/run away from). Many a soul has been subjected to a lecture about this or that plant or fungus by me. I particularly enjoy pointing out things like poison ivy and poisonous mushrooms to unsuspecting city folk.

When these celebra-scientists calm down and get into the nitty gritty of what they study it's fun to watch. But when they're doing the gonzo crazy kid thing it makes me cringe. We've already got a glut of extreme this or that for people who are extremely bored with life. I really don't think we need extreme science too.


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