On Science & being an Engineer!

It’s been a while since I posted here, I’ve been really busy preparing for a friend to move in with me and getting on with various other dull but necessary life stuff.

I’ve just had a look at updating the day-zero list and there isn’t much to report – I’m going to have to start working at this!

I have, however, completed my first book of 2012 – Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science . It’s taken me ages to read this because it’s not all that well written in places and requires a bit more effort to read than a lot of other books. However, I really highly reccomed it as the effort is well worth it. I always thought that as a Graduate as the Sciences and a sceptic generally, that I was fairly immune to advertising Bullsh*t. I was wrong. The amount of rubbish in the media is absolutely unbelieveable. Key things I think I learned from this book are:

  • The shocking truth of homeopathy and nutritionists
  • The ways the media misuse science data to get a story
  • The fact that when a story says that, for example, a drug leads to “a 50% increase in heart attacks” or whatever, it could mean that it saves hundreds of lives treating whatever it’s for, but that perhaps 2 people would ordinarily have a heart attack over the trial period and that with the drug 3 people have heart attacks.
  • To think a bit more about the dumbing down of science in the press
It is in places patronising, confused and rant-y. I don’t think the author is someone I’d like very much in real life; he sometimes seems quite egotistical and apparently despises humanities graduates. Nonetheless, I more than recommend you read this book; I implore you to read this book!
As well as this book, I’ve heard a few discussions lately about the portrayal of science and engineering in the media. As an Engineer, I’ve always felt I want to promote science as a career and change the perception of a dirty victorian guy with bolts and grease. Also, I’m getting increasingly annoyed by the amount of people saying things like ‘I’m no good at maths’ almost proudly.  I’m feeling more and more strongly that I want to help promote sciences. I think there’s a difficult balance to be struck because there really are few women in my career. I really dislike some of the women in Engineering events which target women specifically, I just want to remove all barriers to entry for women, including and particularly, the invisible barrier the exists in the portrayal of engineering and the perception that it isn’t something that a girly girl would enjoy.
(If anyone wants any advice on Engineering careers, or works in Science or Engineering and could contribute images or thoughts to a presentation I’m putting together for school children, please comment!)

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