Rejoining Joy

Ways of living

I Love Science and Science Loves Me

Science is a way of thinking and being.

Science is a way of thinking and being. It is the application of our critical thought processes in an effort to understand the world around us, using scientific methods. Science might be divided into disciplines such as physics, psychology, and biology, but it really is a unity. It is constantly being built by rigorous thought and research, so that it is a reflection of ourselves. By saying that not only do I love science but also that science loves me, I am indicating that the worlds we construct are part of ourselves and give back to us by their edification, inspiration, and community.

Scientists live science; they live critical and creative thinking, formulating practical and theoretical ideas, and testing them by gathering and studying data and evidence. Scientists love science; they are not emotionless automatons, but are passionate about their fields, share animatedly their ideas, have active personal lives, and seek harmonies within their interior universe and in the material universe.

Scientists know how important science is for the future of humanity. Their ultimate motivation is not only to achieve understanding for themselves and other scientists but also to help the public understand. They like seeing their ideas applied. Or, if they are doing basic, non-applied research, they know that even this type of research might help people one day or might contribute to the paths in knowledge creation that could help people one day.

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Scientists love other disciplines. They respect artists, historians, librarians, and health professionals, for example. Wherever there is rigorous, critical thought, great passion in work, and a helping attitude, scientists find common ground, not to mention that in their spare time they engage in activities such as singing, hiking and even climbing mountains, and writing poetry.

Science requires majestic effort and perseverance. Its discoveries are built on the collective work of other scientists and the gradual accrual of appreciating what works and what does not work as one proceeds. Scientists get lost behind the microscope, in data sheets, in the minds of patients, and the subject matter that they study. Their focus is intense and their reverie boundless. There is no joy equal to the "aha" experience of realizing something that has never been realized by anyone else before or in having a prediction confirmed in a scientific experiment. No wonder scientists like hiking and even mountain climbing! We love to spread the word to others, to present our ideas and data at conferences and to write up our literature reviews and studies for publication. This is like our music and our poetry.

Scientists talk in words and write in their native tongue or one in which they are familiar. However, they are really communicating in mathematics. Math could be a major part of their work, or perhaps the topic of focus. Moreover, they might not be conversant enough in math to find the equivalent mathematical expressions for their concepts, but because they are studying nature, this type of translation should be possible one day in all science. Scientists love mathematics and mathematics loves them.

I love psychology and psychology loves me. This is my scientific bag. Psychology is defined as the study of behavior and its organization, but it is also about mind, brain-behavior relations, and ways of living. Psychology aims to understand behavior, and this also means when it gets disturbed and therapy can help. Therefore, there are two major branches of psychology -- the research side and the practical side. Some of us are fortunate to be scientist-practitioners, like myself. It is hard work, keeping up on the literature and contributing to it, and also meeting patients with a full presence and knowledge set to help them achieve their goals, and even help define those goals, as the need arises.

Children and teenagers need the best role models, including at home and at school. They look up to entertainers and athletes, as well as other people in the news, such as politicians, in particular. However, if they learned about how extraordinary science is and how scientists are dedicated and human, they might expand their search for role models. Astronauts make the perfect scientist role models, and there are famous scientists whom we all know, such as Einstein. But there are others whom children could appreciate, such as those who contributed to the Internet, the cell phone, and medicine. Indeed, children and teenagers are in contact with people who love science on a daily basis, such as their science teachers. We should develop sufficient resources for all children and teenagers to see the beauty and importance of science. There are so many initiatives this way, but do they reach all children and teenagers?

I am proposing to create a website called "I Love Science and Science Loves Me." Anyone who would like to contribute should let me know. It should include great descriptions of each of the scientific disciplines, testimonials by scientists, great videos of nature and scientists in action, and scenes of children and teenagers participating in science, such as school projects and science fairs. Given that I am a psychologist, it should include a psychological component. Of course, this could be one of the most interesting and visited areas of the website.

This project is a collective one. I have laid the seed, hopefully you will follow through. This is how people work and how science works. We share ideas and work and we build lasting edifices of community. Our bricks are ideas, and our mortar is talk. Our foundations are not in concrete and our structures are not in steel. Rather, our foundations are in the quality of our communications and our structures are in the shared pathways that we create, whether in science or any common task. We should live our lives in a way that brings us toward the loftiest levels both in ourselves and in others. Nathan Hale said he regrets that he has one life to give for his country. Scientists think the same way: We regret that we have but one life to give for science. 

Gerald Young, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at York University.

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