Hello Cruel World
Thursday, May 22, 2003
It is upsetting to hear people denigrate all non-humanities disciplines, especially when they seem to assume that all non-humanities persons are either some kind of 'neo-liberal' econocrats or religious fundamentalists. I tried, but was unable to
A Humanist's* Sojourn Among Scientists
By LEONARD CASSUTO
If academe is like a village, it's a voluntarily segregated community. Most residents stay in their disciplinary neighborhoods and work where the surroundings are comfortable and familiar. Recently, however, I left my humanities neighborhood for an unlikely destination: A foray into journalism took me to the community of condensed-matter physics. I needed to talk to laboratory scientists ...
So imagine my surprise at how easy my interview subjects made it for me. Just about everybody I called took time to talk to me at length. Interview subjects ranging from assistant professors to Nobel Prize winners were shockingly courteous as I peered into an embarrassing event in their field.
... But these physicists were more than helpful. They were downright friendly. They often had to stop to explain concepts that were elementary to them, but obscure to me. Though they were talking down to me, they made generous efforts to make it look like they weren't. I attribute that good feeling not to my own charms or journalistic skill, but rather to a sense of genuine collegiality toward a stranger in town ...
[There's more, which I found confirmed my impression that many scientists are at least as interesting & often better people to know & talk to than the average economist, arts graduate, etc.]
*By 'humanist' he seems to mean 'person working within humanities disciplines', whereas I remember an older version which encompassed all manner of people by their beliefs & philosophies without including their jobs, viz:
Humanist: One who is concerned with the interests and welfare of humans.
Humanism: A system of thought that centres on humans and their values, capacities, and worth. Concern with the interests, needs, and welfare of humans. A cultural and intellectual movement of the Renaissance that emphasized secular concerns.
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