Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m an ordinary non-scientific American who doesn’t quite agree with what the brainiacs in lab coats have to say about science-y things evolution, climate change and Frankenfoods.

The harder they argue that their research contradicts what I feel is true, the less likely I am to accept it.

The media talking heads think this disconnect provides clear evidence that I’m a great big dummy, but actually I’m a normal sized person. And I’m just like a lot of other very normal people in one key area – I get stubborn and resentful when another person tells me they know what’s going on and I don’t.

I find it exasperating that scientists, who seem to be so intelligent in other areas, don’t get this basic human truth – nobody likes a smarty pants. And here’s the tricky part – I actually respect science and I want to believe what they’re saying, but I feel like they won’t let me because of the way they deliver information.

So I’m sure you’re wondering why somebody as defensive as me would ask you for advice. The fact is, I’m only doing it because you’re an animal, Dr. Babooner.

A lot of people like me feel more comfortable talking to hairy beasts than we do to other humans. For instance I’ve noticed that the only authority figure in a lab coat who doesn’t make me instantly angry is Mr. Peabody, and he’s a dog.

So, given that they desperately need better PR, why do scientists insist on issuing their learned proclamations from ivory towers rather than explaining important issues like global warming and GMO’s in a more palatable way. Like maybe through the lips of cartoon animals?

Quizzically,
John Q. Public

Dear Mr. Public,

I’m flattered that you think I’m somehow more approachable than a scientist because I am hairy. But I have to point out that the only reason my hair looks the way it does – is science. A wild baboon would never have the time or the chemicals to make it do this.

Scientists issuing their major reports through the lips of cartoon animals might indeed make the information more palatable for resentful Americans like yourself, but you’re forgetting that intelligent people do like to receive credit for their knowledge, even if they are, technically, a “smarty pants.”

Maybe your uninformed stubbornness would be easier to take if you denounced careful scientific research through the furry lips of a very cute big-eyed kitten.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

28 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

  1. Dear Mr. Public:
    First of all, we doctors of science no longer speak from ivory towers. The decline in animal population has led us to develop faux ivory with which to build our towers. This is done through the use of polymer clay. Polymer clays contain a basis of PVC resin and a liquid plasticizer, making it a plastisol….
    But I digress.
    I discern that you are a very visual person and the optics of a situation are important to you. My advise to you is….DON’T LOOK! JUST LISTEN! Change the environment in which you are receiving the data by simply closing your eyes. You’ll no longer be aware of your scientific blind spot and will have a ready defense against the false accusation of nodding off: “I’m not sleeping. I’m learning.”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Masterful Dale and wessew.

    I can only add that Mr. Public’s narcissism also seems to make it impossible to understand that a lot of people prefer to recieve their science and health information from someone who looks like a scientist or healthcare professional.

    It worked for Marcus Welby. “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on tv”.

    Then there are those elitists who prefer to get their science and health information from actual scientists and healthcare professionals. But I suppose they are just showing off.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Good morning. I doubt that your real problem is defensiveness and unwillingness to accept information from scientists because of the way they present that information, Mr. Public. I think you have been mislead by people who want you join them in supporting their agenda.

    Mr. Public, please take a closer look at the people you are affiliating with when you reject the advice of scientists. If scientists live in ivory towers, or faux ivory towers, some of the people you are joining are so rich that they could live in gold towers. They include politicians who take large amounts of money from those very rich people who reject science. Do you think you should take the side of people of this kind?

    Liked by 5 people

  4. People live in a world that is some unique combination of things that are true and things they simply wish were true. Scientists live in a world fiercely committed to things that are true. No wonder people dislike and mistrust scientists. They are always telling us we are wrong about our passionately held beliefs.

    I’ve just been reading about ADHD. A few years ago many people were convinced that it was caused (or amplified) by eating too much sugar. I think experts mostly disagree now. But it is comforting to think that ADHD has a cause and thus we can reverse it by limiting the sugar intake of kids who have trouble controlling themselves.

    There was a recent flurry in the world of wolf research. A study was released that had a surprising result. News about that study got picked up and repeated all over because journalists liked the story; it seemed interesting and novel. Unfortunately, the science behind that study was wobbly. Good wolf research usually goes unnoticed. The fact that this study came up with an appealing result made it attractive and popular.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After 20+ years in the business, I can tell you that ADHD isn’t caused by sugar, food dyes, or anything one eats. It is often inherited. It reflects a problem in brain functioning. So, what causes the brain to malfunction? The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that children who watch Sponge Bob before the ages of 4 or 5 are likely to develop ADHD, and advise that young children not watch the show. What is that about? Is it exposure to the images and way the images are flashed on the screen that actually cause changes in brain function and structure? I think that could be possible. If so, what does that mean for the way we rear and entertain our children? Is it caused by environmental toxins? I tend to think that is possible, too. Both my children have ADHD, and I believe it was caused by a combination of prematurity, serious complications during my pregnancies, and the fact that their father probably has it, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My #1son and DIL are pretty big media watchers (being in LA and in the business and all). I hope they will use restraint when exposing my new little GS to early TV. I’m sure it’s not just SpongeBob that affects their brains.
        My cousin’s children had no TV until they were in highschool and they were and are two of the cleaverest, most creative people I know.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. somewhere in our files there is a picture of me holding a very alarmed looking baby s&h while wearing the Sponge Bob tights for a fitting at work. That is as close as he ever got.

          In my early mom days, I read someplace that the American Academy of Pediatricians said children under 2 should not have exposure to tv. That worked for me, so that is what we did.

          S&h is now trying to convince me that as a high school junior he should be doing his first year of a college degree in astrophysics. Scares me that this could actually work out.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. The whole panorama of scientific research has a veneer of invulnerabilty, rightness and solidity that can be deceiving, I believe. While I have the highest regard for solid, honest and rigorous scientific research, there are many humans involved which means it can be tainted with ambition, greed and politics. When the mantra “publish or perish” is the difference between jobs, promotions and research grants — solid research and honestly reported results can be tweaked to fit the moment. What was solid, scientific fact 20 years ago, is now antiquated and disproven in some instances. I try to keep a healthy skepticism of the latest “scientific research” — especially if it’s reported on mainstream media and couched in neat, tidy sound bites. There’s always more to the story and a closer look at the parameters of the study can reveal much more than reported.

    In my mind, “scientific facts” can be a slippery synonym for what someone wants you to believe. Just my opinion …

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      1. Occasional Caroline is hosting in St. Paul, I believe. More details coming, I’m sure. Books we’re reading (not that a majority of the afternoon is devoted to these) are: Oil and Honey by Bill McKibben, and/or The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King.

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      1. I’ll try this again, but WP hasn’t let me fill in the blanks so far today.

        BBC is at my house in West St. Paul on Sunday, 2/8 at 2:00. I’ll provide the full address if you contact me by email at caroline(dot)wolfe(at)gmail(dot)com. Looking forward to it.

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        1. I just found an old email from vs with a bunch of TB emails. I’ll send my address to that list even though many of the recipients won’t need/want it. If you don’t get that message please feel free to email me at caroline(dot)wolfe(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll give you any information you need.

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    1. Could that be because in our lifetime so-called scientific facts have been proven wrong repeatedly?

      I must admit that I have very little confidence that the drug testing done by the big pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA approval process aren’t influenced by money; lots of money. I still recall vividly the birth defects that resulted from thalidomide.

      I know scientists who are very ethical, and whose studies I would trust. I also know some where that isn’t the case. I think Joanne’s point is well taken, that money and politics play a significant role in what research gets funded. A healthy skepticism toward “scientific facts” doesn’t seem foolish to me.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. l tend to consider the preponderance or consensus of scientists around the globe as l highly doubt they’re all bought or coerced by special interest groups. ln fact, the relative few who call it a hoax are hired by those who profit mightily by pollution owned businesses.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am avoiding comment.
    I have a foot firmly planted in faith and another in science.I commonly am reading the Bible and commentaries at the same time as reading books that are about evolution directly or indirectly. I see them as two separate domains, with two different ways of knowing.
    I am tired of the fight; get sick when religionists attack science and now when science attacks religion.For thirty years I have observed how each presents itself to the general public, who are the spokespersons, and how they perceive themselves, as witnessed by how they behave in the public forum.
    In summary, I think each does itself harm by their public presence, not so much by what they say, but how they say it, and the manner of their public presence.
    I have flirted with writing sc-fi of the point in the future when science has become the medieval Vatican.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I am in favor of the scientific approach. I see this as an approach that attempts to get the truth by gathering information in a way acceptable to well trained scientists. In agriculture, which is my area of scientific training, this includes doing replicated and randomized testing. I think information based on correctly conducted scientific research is generally much better than information that is based on observations not backed up by scientific studies or based on opinions and conjecture.

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  8. Skepticism is often a good policy, especially when it comes to food science. And especially as it relates to disease. There is a tremendous amount of bad science out there. Retrospective studies are basically garbage, but if people like their conclusions they will embrace them anyway, and it’s not uncommon for two similar studies to reach opposite conclusions. No wonder people don’t know what to believe.

    Liked by 1 person

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