Unintended Sources

While distributing seeds I had opportunity to cogitate on the nature of becoming scientist. From my own observations, the best scientists are those who overcome the obstacles of society in teaching themselves. Yes, teachers and mentors help, but mostly they coddle the mediocre.

Yes, I am aware that sounds rather macho. But I would advance that it applies regardless of gender.

I grew up in a period when chemistry sets were in the middle of their decline from the heyday of toxicity and danger to today’s blahness of total scripting and nothing more amazing than kitchen ingredients. Apparently being a food ingredient is enough to combat the protectionist gestapo.

My parents denied me a chemistry set for three years, whether from fear of doing myself an injury or just some anti-science thing I am unsure. But they did give me a BB gun a year before the chemistry set.

That chemistry set was a major disappointment. I learned nothing, or, at least, very little from it, because it presented nothing constructive. I was totally befuddled. Why was this not working? I would learn years later that it is hard to learn chemistry from a neutered (spayed?) chemistry set. So even though my parents finally relented and let me have a chemistry set, society had already removed its value and guts.

What made a difference for me, as I have said before, were the American Basic Science Club kits and my father’s algebra and trigonometry textbooks. I shall not repeat that tale. But I will advance that these were the things that let me overcome the wasteland of information for children and teach myself science. That is the paradigm. What makes a difference almost never can be predicted, otherwise the science grinches would vacuum it away.

But I am still troubled that the wasteland is a lot larger and deeper and nastier today than when I was a child.

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