Thursday, July 24, 2008

In which I expound on my frustration

Warning: Rant. If you do not want to read this, page down.

Sometimes I come across things which are supremely stupefying in their simplemindedness and their illogic; the long list of things that are wrong with them is so long and interwoven that I don't even know where to begin describing them. I comprehend the problem, but it is difficult to translate it into words and organize the points sometimes.

Mostly, I am not sure how much to explain some things sometimes. I come from an upper-middle-class family, for example, the progeny of two parents who have masters' degrees, and am planning to get a PhD in neuroscience (as you all know, I am currently in college studying neuroscience), which is actually fairly easy for me, compared with how hard it seems to be, from the reactions I've gotten from many whom I've told about my studies, for many others. Sometimes, when for example I have to communicate with someone who has less than a high school education, I wrack my brain trying to tell them about various intricate concepts in simple terms. Even people in other fields, who may be as educated or more educated than me, make me wrack my brain in telling them things in ways they can understand. I really only have a certain amount of ease communicating with people who study what I study; I don't have to do a whole lot of explaining.

(As an aside, though I have a distaste for Mooney, Nisbet, Olson and their ilk, the sentiment that we could do a little better in communicating science to people is true, though I disagree with them on how.)

As for social criticism, I have some of the same problems - I cannot muster the words, no matter how much grandiloquence I can wedge into my posts, to express how utterly disastrous the world is right now. I make no move to hide my misanthropy. I mean, yes, it is informed, to some extent, by a past that I mostly vigorously shove to the back of my mind where I am seldom reminded of it, though it is also informed by what I read in the news and my understanding from my point of view. Sometimes the explanations I muster are long enough that I do not have the patience to say everything I want to say, that the other person probably doesn't have the time to listen to me, and sometimes they're also filled enough with harsh and well-deserved criticism, which is usually fairly angry even if somewhat eloquent, that emotionally it makes me feel like retreating into a room for a while and either beating the shit out of an inanimate object or crying. Anger is tiring. I make no move to hide the fact that I have much of it, and it tires me daily.

Sometimes my blog posts sound a little clipped; honestly, I don't get enough feedback in my comments to know what the apparent several hundred people who've read this blog think of what I write. Those are usually because sometimes, on some topics, it's hard to know where to start - some are so wonderfully or nastily complex that no one angle seems quite adequate to explore what I'm writing about.

I tried to make this post somewhat organized, and I think I didn't organize it much; I was already reluctant to post this anyway, because of what a reader might think, and because I've been shit on enough for just bringing up some of my own problems - I mean, seriously, there's a shortage of people who seem to really care when their friend has problems instead of pushing them away for temporarily being a sad sack, even though everyone has problems at some point (man, if this loses me any friends at Wisconsin - I know some of you read this blog from time to time - I'm not gonna be happy), but I got tired of being quiet about this.

I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm tired.

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Christian Ridley said...

Lack of communication ability is something which I understand, its costantly hard for me to reach out to people or to bother making the effort when it seems all I get in return are bemused looks. But then finding someone you can connect and communicate with fluently seems to make it all a bit more worthwhile.
Maybe thats just a problem with modern science, not being able to explain these wonderful things which enthrall and intrigue us to other, less scientifically inclined, people. And maybe, as you said, science needs to be made more readily available to everybody.

Genius said...

I find it hard to see how a post like that should make you loose friends*, it makes me want to give you a hug or something.

I also sympathize with the communication issue. It seems to me success at communication is often negatively associated with the amount of valid content.

* what sort of person would do that? unless it manifests as you harming them...

Steve said...

I hate to be "this guy" but you don't wrack your brain, you rack it. Just thought I'd save you from any future embarrassment that could cause you. Also I can't really sympathize or empathize with you on this post because all you said was that you're tired and angry without really giving a reason why. I like intelligent people but on a post like this I can't tell if you're smart or just pedantic. You can take whatever I say with a grain of salt, just thought I'd give feedback because you said you're lacking it.