I’m in the position of having the job I always wanted.
And what am I doing? Working really damn hard to not fuck it up.
I went to school to study chemistry and theatre joking that I would be Yvette the Science Dudette.
(So… close enough?)
It was a joke of course. It’s not like I was ever going to start a website. If I started it, maybe a few hundred of my friends would follow it, right? I’m just a loudmouth without a microphone, who was going to listen? I was just… me.
I look reputable here, right?
Give a loudmouth a microphone. The sound resonates.
Within the course of six months I went from being Yvette, the analytical chemist whose name nobody knew, to… well, here we are. I’ve had a few articles and videos go viral, assisted a large company or two make more science conscious decisions, and I even had a puppy named after me because I’m a “famous scientist.”
Me. Famous. Well, fame-ish. Or at least I have a microphone.
Life as Science Babe isn’t always charmed, but it isn’t bad. In the process of going from a laboratory chemist to somewhat of a public figure practically overnight I’ve lost privacy, but I’ve been given so much in return (not the life for everyone, but it’s worth it for me). I’ve spoken with scientists who I deeply admire, and I get emails regularly from people saying that the information I’ve presented has convinced them that GMOs and vaccines are safe. Those emails make me cry every damn time.
It’s different than fame; it’s trust. And it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
I check my sources carefully, my articles take a good deal of time to write, and you’d be hard pressed to find subjects posted on my page with an absence of widespread scientific consensus. This is a bigger microphone than I expected. Time is rolling on and it’s only getting bigger. With that knowledge, the standards for what get posted to the site are staying as strict as they always were: reputable peer review to back up my claims every single time. It’s what people deserve.
And what do I want?
A bigger goddamned microphone.
Two reasons. One, courtesy of Carl Sagan:
I can’t not do this. I love this.
The other reason? When it comes to a platform to speak about science, not all people take this responsibility with the weight it deserves. And one person with a huge microphone flailing aimlessly with whatever shit comes to mind seems to wipe out all the words that science carefully researches.
Part of what enables me to do work is that I’ve been trained to recognize reputable proof. Although I do a good deal of debunkings with an f-bomb or twenty, they’re a means to an end. Teaching people to recognize the hallmarks of good science has become the main focus of the site. If you can recognize real science, you can both appreciate how wonderful it is… and you can recognize and avoid bad science.
And if you have a platform that enables you to communicate science to the public, you have an enormous responsibility.
If only everyone had the same perspective. There’s a reason a job like mine is necessary. It’s because of this:
Even Bill Nye the Science Guy- whose job it is to promote science- held anti-GMO views for a long time, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.
That’s quite the list, and that’s just what google will give to me before the second cup of coffee.
*gets second cup of coffee.*
*pauses to enjoy cup… give me a minute, this is good coffee.*
*decides the list is long and depressing enough and you’ve gotten the picture.*
Before anyone points fingers, look at the list as a whole. I picked these people because they can seem reputable to someone without a scientific background. They’re from all points of the political spectrum, some of them are scientists, some of them are politicians, some of them are actors who studied science. What do they have in common?
A big fucking microphone.
It’s causing real harm.
Public officials and people who appear to have reputability in science espousing views that are in direct opposition to scientific consensus provide the illusion of debate within the scientific community. Debate is best left for the political arena. In science, all that matters is what you can and can’t prove.
We can show proof, over and over again with a preponderance of evidence, that climate change is real. Don’t conflate weather with climate when you want a visual of a snowball introduce views that don’t permeate a world view that’s cohesive with science.
We can goddamn prove that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. I’m still seething with anger that presenting this as a debate allowed disease to start at my hometown and travel across the globe.
We’ve shown proof, over and over again, that GMOs are safe. To ask questions about it is to be a skeptic, but to make claims that are anti-science embolden people to do things like burn fields of golden rice that was designed to save people from vitamin A deficiency.
Do you see the trend? Communicating false scientific claims is causing tangible harm. As science communicators, we don’t take oaths to do no harm. However, the havoc that can be wreaked by just one study being communicated inappropriately to the public is so far reaching. We can do better.
We need to do better.
If you’re fortunate enough to have this job with a big microphone, do what I respect Bill Nye so much for doing. Remember that we don’t have stances on science, we accept evidence. So be willing to change your stance on a subject like GMOs when your position is challenged by evidence. Learn to look for reputability. Question your positions. Above all else, remember your audience holds you up as an authority and you owe it to them to deliver more than an opinion. They deserve science.
It’s the job you always wanted. So do your fucking job.