Wednesday, December 17, 2008

363. Two New Biologically Incorrect Cartoons: Gonzo Science: Observer Versus Interactor Effect and the Adaptation of the Zooming Eyes

When writing an end-of-the-quarter essay for Dr. Young on Scale-based reasoning and the quest of metaphors for describing the human-environmental condition, I ended up cranking out two cartoons that I essentially manicured because I made a decision to send them to Dr. John Bohannon, a Science correspondant--err, the famous science journalist who coined Gonzo Science and started a Dance Competition for scientists--as he described in one of his articles as "part awkward and part magical... as in a wedding." (paraphrased). So, since I was sending my cartoons to the eyes of an internationally renowned journalist who helped me last summer with attempting to get a science journalism internship--I am trying again this summer, by the way--I ended up manicuring my cartoons a lot more than usual. Like triple checking for spelling and making sure I eliminated all smudges and blurs on my pencil-drawn figures of Terra and Buz. I still haven't checked my emails to see whether Dr. Bohannon responded or not. I am sure he is swamped and has not had a chance to check or respond. It's okay. I hope to encounter him at the upcoming AAAS meeting and thank him for continued inspiration in the pursuit of using art--visualization--to solve scientific and environmental problems. The current reason for why I wake up in the morning full of life and enthusiasm and purpose, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Drawing stuff is a pleasure center hit. An addictive form of therapy after writing a long, crass, boring, unemotional scientific paper. Then Terra and Buz knock on my skull and jump out of my head onto a blank sheet of paper, stating how Victoria "really thinks and feels."
The Observer Effect versus the Interactor Effect. What does science means when scientists are a part of the experiment? Fundamental shift in thinking. I have to credit Tariel for the quote of science in general: "Saving the world... after we collect more data."
And here is my story about The Adaptation of the Zooming Eyes. This cartoon was inspired by two notable incidents. First, my sister Jenny, after finishing four years of undergraduate education at UC Santa Barbara, receiving a psychology degree and an exercise-health-physiology minor, she commented to me, "You know what? Half of everything I learned in psychology the last four years was bullshxt." My eyes grew wide open. "What?! What a waste of tuition." "I know," she said, apathetically. If only you could rewind the clock. I then told Jenny that 95% of my education was DIE-HARD REAL and INTERACTIVE, but that was because I was a College of Creative Studies biology major. I was learning-by-doing, this so called "constructionist" learning. My education was anomalous and rather "old fashioned," like the interactive educational experiences of my grandfather Ray and granduncle Dwight, where they went out and learned how to build stuff, like airplanes and cabins and the like. I poked at plants, parasites, invertebrates, vertebrates, and took lots of pixies of them. Life was good... back in the day....

The second inspirational incident was a snarky comment made by Andre Folse, a CCS biology major under Armand Kuris as well (so was I). Andre, Anna, and I were all studying for Dr. Sweet's evolutionary vertebrate morphology final, and Andre popped out the question amidst our studies (in which I was doing a half-xss job, my great contribution was printing out the final). (PS I am citing Andre's brother's advisor's research up at Stanford, Joan Roughgarden, eusocial reproduction, Nash equilibrium stuff).... So... back to the point... Andre, amidst our studies blurted out, "What if everything in our education was just a joke? None of it was real or true? What if all the stories these professors were telling us and forcing us to memorize were all a farse?" Anna and I froze for a second, and after that statement I was convinced I had to make the Zooming Eyes cartoon. I proposed the Adaptation and both Anna and Andre felt that this was a high necessity. Too bad our eyes don't zoom. I guess that's why we have telescopes and microscopes in the first place. *Sigh.*

1 comment:

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

April 18, 2009. Bren COMPASS science communication workshop. Dr. Ron Rice provided an overview of design/evaluation of communication campaigns (my second-time exposure). Based on his lecture, with his emphasis on "the touchy line between science and advocacy," we are essentially in agreement with the notion of science versus behavioral change as a fundamental issue that scientists must grapple with.