Readers will have noticed that I tend to focus on the issues of real-world impact and applied relevance of drug abuse science on this blog. This focus on public health crops up in my discussions of career issues related to seeking funding for scientific endeavors from the National Institutes of Health. When I talk about science outreach and science communication, well, there I go again.
Well I happened to run across some guy taped criticizing this perspective:
It's interesting. Sure, I seek my funding from the taxpayer to work on problems of health. So heck yes, it is obligatory for me to work on things that have some importance for public health. Likewise, I feel it is critical that I do what I can to explain to the guy on the bar stool next to me (I hate that stereotypical Ivory Tower "plumber" reference this character used) why NIH science is important to all of us who pay for it.
Still, nothing wrong with seeing the beauty of science. The video makes an excellent argument. Much of science is beautiful, uplifting and triumphant. It is good to communicate that too, and obviously the college classroom is one key arena for this discussion.
But we do not need to disdain either goal or motivation to uplift science. It is not necessary to sneer at important, relevant or applied science as if there is something lesser about such motivations or about the resulting bodies of work.