Three reasons to call yourself a scientist

November 17, 2010

Inspired by a recent tweet from @xmalik, three reasons to call yourself a scientist:

  1. Your qualifications. Does being qualified in science make you a scientist? And how qualified do you have to be? Is it good enough to have a high school qualification in a science subject, or do you need a university degree, or maybe a PhD is the entry point into ‘being a scientist’?
  2. Your job. Do you have to be working at increasing our understanding of the world to be a scientist? You could do this by carrying out experiments or developing theory or maybe just summarising and synthesising the experiments and theory of others. Or does communicating about science in a way that non-scientists (whoever they are…) can understand and appreciate makes you a scientist. Is a school science teacher a scientist? And what about people who worked at pushing back the frontiers once, but do a different sort of job now? Are they scientists? And if not when did they stop being scientists?
  3. Your way of thinking. Are you constantly trying to understand more about the world around you? Is the question “What is the evidence for that?” often on your lips? Do you naturally question and analyse? Do you try to extract general principles from your observations, while always being wary of generalizing too much? Is your reaction to a number often to ask “Compared to what?”?

Thinking like a scientist. That’s what makes you one…

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