Last week, I went after a claim about “immortal lobsters.”
No, lobsters are not immortal. Lobsters have shorter lives than humans. But there is a tiny little sliver of truth that gets mangled somehow into a bigger claim that “lobsters are immortal.”
I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on the post (which has been updated several times), tracking down references, making pictures, and editing Wikipedia. I was gratified by the response to my post. It was one of my most popular blog posts in a long time. But then, I was dishearted to see that my posts didn’t even have 1% of the reach of a silly lobster picture. And I probably shouldn’t have searched Twitter for “immortal lobsters” to see how many people were accepting this and retweeting this claim.
Last night, I realized I had it easy. At least I don’t have to put up with the stuff the real marine biologists have to deal with, like a cable television network promoting the idea that mermaids are real.
Seriously. What the hell.
Because it apparently needs saying... mermaids are not real.
You want to make a dent in the foolishness. But sometimes, you just wonder if you can.
And then we scientists get told we are not doing enough.
What about the rest of you guys doing great work that not enough people know about? Who’s helping you communicate what you do?
Sigh. You mean besides blogging non-stop for eleven years as of this week?
Scicurious has a long response to that, which says a lot of things I would probably say. I guess I’ll just add here that I can’t compete with viral memes and entire television networks. Even if I wasn’t trying to teach students and do actual original research, too, how far could I go when the tide seems so relentless and so fast?
This is not to say that I am going to give up. This is a good fight. But sometimes, you wish there was a lull in the fight instead of a never-ending battle.
Additional, 29 May 2013: Apparently, this week’s “mermaids” show gave the network that aired it its biggest audience ever. Hope for humanity fading...
More additional, 29 May 2013: If my post is one of fatigue, Bug Girl's post bookends mine with wonderful enthusiasm. Hope for humanity rising...
Why Science Needs Help Talking About Itself
Calling all Brave Travelers
Insect Carl Sagan and science communication
All lobsters are mortal
I want to be Carl Sagan, but can’t