I, like many of the contributors to Mad Art Lab, am an artistically minded individual. I have a creative spirit; I love art and music and writing above all else. I was a complete band geek as a kid, my high school years culminating in my participation in five in-school music classes per day my senior year (don’t ask me how they allowed that!), but I paid almost zero attention in my science and math classes.
Becoming interested in skepticism has changed that attitude a lot. Those of us without science backgrounds have the necessity to brush up on our facts just to keep up with the multitudes of science-y skeptics we find ourselves surrounded by, not to mention in order to become better critical thinkers and detectors of BS. Not only has it made me more educated in science, but it has fanned the flame scientific wonder glowing within me that had previously become a tiny ember from the boring treatment of math and science in my classrooms.
One of the things I love about this site is that it takes the skeptical dialogue out of the solitary hands of the scientists and shares it with those of a different perspective. I used to feel like I had very little to contribute to the skeptical community, but this has given me a new, exciting outlet.
Women Thinking Free went on a camping trip last year where we got to hang out with rockstar astronomer Pamela Gay and check out stars and planets at the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin. It was a night full of awe-inspiring sights, but a lot of heavy science. Pamela especially did really well at explaining principles in a way us laypeople could understand, but inevitably the conversation went towards quantum somethingorother and gravitational whoosy-whatsit and it became harder to understand. At one point, I turned to one of my fellow laypeople and whispered, “I have no idea what they’re talking about!”
“I don’t worry about it,” she said. “Some skeptics are scientists and some aren’t. I just focus on the things I’m good at and leave the science to them.”
I’m not sure this is good enough for me. I want to know as much as I can so I can be as mentally equipped as possible. Yet, it’s possible that going into scientific issues knowing only a little bit about science is worse than admitting to yourself that you don’t know anything.
What do you think? Is it our duty as non-scientist skeptics to learn as much about science as we can, or should we leave it to the experts? What has skepticism done for your knowledge and/or love of science? If you have a science background, how has being a part of the skeptical community changed your approach toward educating the general population?
The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab
community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.