March 28th, 2007


There is no science

I was at the museum the other day, looking at the dinosaurs. I had my daughter with me. I explained to her that the Tyrannosaur lived millions of years ago and its fossilized bones and a few footprints are the only records we have that it ever existed. My daughter marvelled at the tiny forelimbs of the creature. I told her that in all likelihood they were so small because the creature's mode of hunting didn't require them any more, and they were on their way to becoming vestigial.

Next to us, a pair of men snickered. They were dressed in white lab coats over ratty teeshirts and baggy cargo pants. They were smoking clove cigarettes even though the no smoking sign was clearly posted. My daughter and I ignored them and moved on.

We looked at the pterosaurs and then some fossilized eggs. The two guys in white coats tailed us, whispering with heads together and laughing rudely. It was becoming distracting, and their attitude was beginning to annoy me. I turned to confront them in front of the trilobite exhibit.

"Do you guys have a problem?" I asked quietly. The punks pulled up short, but they didn't back down. Instead they folded their arms and elbowed each other.

"Dickhead asks if we have a problem," one of them chortled.

"Douchebag wants to know WHAT IS THE DEAL!" tittered the other.

"I just want you to leave us alone so we can enjoy the museum," I said, starting to turn around.

"You have so bought into it," sneered the first jerk.

"SO owned. SO gullible," hooted the second.

"Oh, great," I scowled. "I'm being stalked by skeptics of science."

"BZZZZZT!" shouted one of them, throwing up his forearms in a big 'X'." His fellow stepped forward.

"Listen, asshole," he said seriously, "We *are* scientists."

"Important science guys," confirmed the other.

"Nobel. Fucking. LAUREATES. Motherfucker," spat his friend, tossing his cig butt at me. I batted it away.

"Yeah, you're some scientists," I sneered back, shielding my daughter with my body. "You guys clearly know all sorts of facts about evolution. That's great. Leave us alone, okay?"

"We know some facts. Don't we, Linus?" winked the taller one.

"Sure we do, Nils," drawled the heavy-set punk. "Like, the fact that evolution is complete bullshit." They cackled to each other and high-fived. Linus took a sip out of a small flask.

"C'mon, honey," I said to my daughter, steering her away. "These guys aren't feeling well today."

My daughter evaded my hand and stepped forward, her arms crossed.

"Evolution," she announced firmly, "is true. I know this because my teacher said so." She fixed the two toughs with a steely, brooking-no-argument stare. The pair erupted into fresh laughter.

"Is that so, little sweetie?" oiled Linus, kneeling so he could look her in the eye. "Did your teachy-weachy tell you all about evolution?"

"She's my teacher, not my teachy-weachy, and she told me all about matural selection," replied my daughter loftily, unaware she had bungled the first word. "Also, you guys are dumb."

"Oho!" said Linus. "And who do you think told your teacher about matural selection?"

My daughter stirred uneasily. "She probably learned it in a library."

"And who wrote all the books in the library?"

"I guess some scientists."

"Us!" shouted Linus, leaping to his feet. "Fucking us!"

"Settle down," I growled, getting between my daughter and the two lunatics.

"Us scientists wrote all those books," continued Linus. "And guess what? They're all bullshit!"

"Complete crapola!" hooted Nils.

"Know why we did that?" pressed Linus.

"Because we could!" howled Nils.

"Because we're smart, and you're not, and you'll believe any old shit we tell you motherfuckers!" shrieked Linus, practically sobbing with laughter.

"Fossils!" yelped Nils, staggering around. "I can't believe they bought the fossils business! Yeah, things just TURNED TO STONE. Idiots!"

"Yeah, and everything is MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD!" gasped Linus. "Or even BILLIONS!"

"You guys are pissing me off," I said. "I can't believe I'm even wasting my time talking to you. Science isn't bullshit. Science is built on the work of generations of scientific minds and learning."

"Yep! and we're all in on it!" smirked Nils.

"It was Socrates' idea," amended Linus. "That guy was a riot."

"He was all like, Hey I know, let's get everybody believing in completely crazy stuff so I can make them all look like dorks!" explained Nils.

"And then he dragged Plato into it, and he was like, Yeah!" enthused Linus. "So he starts spouting all kinds of weird ideas about the universe. And guess what, people buy into it! Like, totally!"

"And then there was Newton, and Bacon, and Hooke," reminisced Nils.

"A few setbacks here and there," interjected Linus. "Gallileo totally got spanked; those church guys had no sense of humor."

"But it's totally taken off!" crowed Nils. "Now it's like religion to people. Everybody believes it! Anybody who doesn't is automatically a crazy person! This is the ultimate punking, and you have ALL been PUNK'd!"

"Here's what's really cool about this," confided Linus with a huge grin. "We can sit here and let you in on all of it. Global warming? Just a feud among the sky-gods. Round earth? not so much. Electromagnetism? it's all just magic, baby. We can sit here and tell you everything, and it won't change a thing. Because tomorrow, if you tell anybody about this, people will call you a nut, and hordes of scientists will step up to discredit you because we're all in on it, and we'll still be on top. The world will still believe the earth goes around the sun instead of vice versa." Linus spread his hands to the heavens. "IDIOTS!"

My daughter was quiet. I wanted to say something to reassure her, something to tell her in plain, easy to understand terms that these guys were wrong, and that this is obvious to anybody with half a brain. But I couldn't think of the words to say what I needed to say, and so I said nothing.

Linus took this as surrender. He lit another cigarette and smirked triumphantly at me through the smoke. Nils jabbed him in the ribs.

"Yo," he whispered, "YMCA group." He pointed to a gaggle of kids romping at the feet of the Tyrannosaur.

"See you, science-bitches," sneered Linus. The pair strolled off towards the front of the museum, kicking each other in the pants.

"DON'T LISTEN TO THOSE JERKS," said a resonant voice in my ear. My daughter and I turned around. The Woolly Mammoth had stepped off its pedestal and was regarding us kindly.

"They're always making trouble," added a caveman.

"Look, about science: it's not bullshit at all," squawked one of the pterosaurs, crow-hopping up to join the throng. "I mean, don't believe everything you hear, but definitely don't believe those guys!"

"FUCKING TELL ME ABOUT IT!" bellowed Hephaestus, emerging from a yawning crack in the floor.