Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Science vs English!

Hey everyone, once again, I'm still chilling out in Portland. It's pretty sweet. But you'll get to see my shining face again on Wednesday! Woo! Anyway, here's Squidink's final guest blogger, Kirstin from SqueezeBoxPharm!

I think one of the biggest problems behind the divide between "science people" and "english people" is that each side has put together preconceived notions of what it means to be the other.

To an English Person, someone in the sciences is only doing it because it pays well - because no one in their right mind could possibly find anything meaningful in a field that prides itself on utter objectivity.

To a Science Person, english majors are those people that couldn't cut it with the hard stuff and who spend all of their days sipping tea and reading frivolous novels.

I'm exaggerating to make a point, here.

I consider myself to fall in the middle of both of these categories. I'm a third year pharmacy school student (which has more science than I believed existed), but in the time I'm not cramming for exams, I live and breath literature and music. My fellow students are not like this. There has been hissing and shying away when I heave my copy of Heart of Darkness onto the desk for some quick perusing between lectures.

I know full well the hours of work that go into writing even a small analytical paper. I know the insanity that is trying to read an article on literary theory. I know the painstaking effort and shattering self-doubt that goes into writing anything fiction, the hours of revision and the conviction that the sentence you've just put down is the worst thing in the history of the universe. (Sarah, it's not. I promise.)

But I also know the beauty in a well-designed experiment. I know the purity that flows from a perfect equation, from the solidity of knowing that this is the answer. I know the uplifting feeling that comes from using knowledge to correct an error and help a patient.

My point is that English and Science people need to get over themselves and embrace the other side. We science people have a lot to offer! I'm proud of the fact that I can give my writing friends accurate medical information to make a gory scene just that much more creepy. And that I can evaluate the severity of an infection to help make things as realistic as possible.

I gain a lot from said writing friends as well--they're more than willing to tear apart something I've written when a science person would declare it perfect because they don't see the issues in tone. Or pacing. Or adverbs. This tearing apart, this destruction of what needs to be taken out, would not happen if these friends had not studied the technique to do this very thing. And I would be much worse off for it.

There is soul in Science. There is precision in English. We can get along!

Kirstin is a third year pharmacy student wanting to specialize in infectious disease, specifically lab and clinical research in tuberculosis. She also enjoys writing, fine accordion music, and the occasional forays into cooking and knitting. You can stalk her online at her blog, SqueezeBoxPharm, or on Twitter as @kjkpharm.


The Library Owl said...

Great post! I'm currently in my final year as well studying chemistry and forensic analysis and I also love to read in any spare time I can find. It's heartening to see that there are other people that can see that there doesn't have to be a divide between the two.

Brenna Braaten said...

Nice post! You make a good argument here. I personally always loved science. In fact, physics is still one of my favorite classes. And having that medical knowledge in there must be really nice. I ran into a similar but different problem with my journalism and English degrees. Most of the people in journalism told me I couldn't cut it as a journalist if I liked to make things up. Both are still literary, so I can't imagine how you felt. Except, I was the only non-science degree in my honors theoretical physics class. That was really awkward. Go you for doing both.

Kate Robertson said...

Kirstin, I had wondered what you would write about and this is a good post. So much of life would be better if we all didn't make assumptions about each other. I can see how embracing the other side as you say would be extremely helpful. In my first nano I killed someone with a pair of circular knitting needles. Do you think that would work?


SqueezeBox said...

Exactly! I have a hard time convincing both sides to reconcile, so I wanted to get it out there.

SqueezeBox said...

I do get a lot of snooty science people telling me I'm wasting my time.
But then, I also get snooty english people telling me I can't possibly think that what I'm doing is valid because it's not creative.
So, y'know. Everybody needs to find the love!

SqueezeBox said...

Thank you! :D
I think death by knitting needle would be quite painful. Did you have the person stabbed or throttled?

Kate Robertson said...

I used the needles to strangle them, which was why they were circular. I think straight needles would be better for stabbing as you'd have more to hold on to.

Post a Comment