“If you open your door to anyone, be prepared to encounter anyone.” – Zero.
Last Saturday our institute opened its doors to the wider public. Regarding the omnipresent doors locked by badge readers and the high safety standards it was a rather big thing. We all were asked politely to help and present the institute and our work to those who are keen to learn and discover.
I was tasked to convince children and surprisingly many adults to paint with the monocellular algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We provided some media plates and some wildtype strain and the guests happily drew along.
Part of being seated there was of course human interaction. Despite my despise for all human beings in general and many of them in particular I did enjoy the possibility to present our work and the general scientific idea to the visitors.
One particular old lady and her husband were very interested. We spoke about basic research, about why we put plants in very tightly controlled growth chambers instead of fields in the sun and so on. I was happy about the amount of interest she had in science and our work.
“Are you familiar with pendulums?” she asked me in German.
“You mean the esoteric kind?” I replied. That offended her visibly.
“No, it has nothing to do with Esotericism. It is Bioenergy.” She went on to explain me that she can tell by her pendulum which apples in the supermarket are covered in pesticides and which are “clean”.
I was baffled. I did not know how to reply. I wanted to stay polite and scream “BULLSHIT!” at her at the same time. Instead I stuttered something about debate on the topic and that this is not working in science. The discussion quickly came to an end. She ended on explaining that older varieties of apples are better because children today have so many allergies. I thanked her for her visit and sent her off.
To this moment I think about what I should have said. This woman strives around and believes in a ridiculous theory, visits a science institute and values both approaches equally. It’s like going to the NASA or ESA, listening to them how they explain space missions in great detail and then ask what the moon tastes like, as it is obviously made of cheese.
I don’t think an offensive approach would have helped to change her attitude, quite the opposite. But why being defensive of science. I’m not the one being wrong here.
I have another year to think about a witty answer until the next day of open doors exposes me to all these people.
“I made that quote above up to get a nicer intro into the text.” – Me.