The Transparency Project: The Science story we tell ourselves, and the science we actually do

Let me start this by saying that I don’t think Science is ‘just’ a story. First off, I don’t think stories are ‘just’ stories – they have a lot of power. Second, I think each approach to knowledge, including science, is uniquely valuable. But any working scientist would have to agree that there is a story of Science we tell ourselves, and then there is the science we do every day. I was discussing this in my lab meeting the other day, using team sports (soccer) as an example.  Kids learn the rules of soccer: no pushing, grabbing, kicking ankles, tripping etc. But, in elite level soccer, all this happens and more.

My point is that there is Science (the Story) and science (what scientists actually do and, don’t get confused: it rarely involves kicking ankles). What if we told each other what we did rather than what we’d like to do, wish we did, or or feel like we should? That is a feminist project: rendering visible the actualities of what we do, so that we can actually think about them, talk about them, work on them. Because if we aren’t all talking about what we do, how can we talk about changing it? So, welcome to the first installment of the Transparency Project: where we talk about things scientists don’t talk about.

Along these lines, see this very fascinating post by Radhika Nagpal about her own path to success (tenured full professor at Harvard): The awesomest 7-year post doc, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the tenure track life.


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