A misunderstanding of IFLS?

If you aren’t on Facebook you might not be aware of a FB page called I fucking love science (IFLS) [for those who don’t like swearing the site is mirrored on Science is Awesome on FB]. As far as I am aware it is not available outside FB. It’s founder, Elise Andrew, is on Twitter as well.

Not being a scientist I can’t vouch for the scientific content but I do like the stuff it comes up with. From science teacher friends on FB it has been a boon for them because the kids in class suddenly realise that there are cool things about science and are more (at the moment at least) engaged in class.

So when I saw this on FB
, via a complicated process whereby a person I am not friends with linked to it and a person I am FB friends with ‘liked’ it so it popped up on my feed, I thought ‘hang on, that’s got the whole premise of IFLS wrong.’ I should point out that this is just my feelpinion and indeed the creator of IFLS may feel completely differently again.

I don’t think that IFLS is designed to teach people science. I think it is designed to show people that there are some fascinating things you can find out more about through science. If people just like the fun stuff does it matter? Alternatively can’t it be about the founder sharing why she FLS? Does it have to be 100% accurate all the time? Can it ever be? When I was at school Pluto was a planet. Horrible Histories plays fast and loose with facts at times, but it packages history in an enjoyable fashion and gets kids, and I’m guessing a few adults too, interested in history. Some of those kids will carry on with a life long interest in history, some will remember it fondly as a show they liked when they were kids and some might even go on to have a career based around history. But it doesn’t mean that Horrible Histories has failed if a certain percentage of kids don’t become historians, archaeologists, or history teachers. It is designed to entertain, just as IFLS is.

That’s not to say that IFLS won’t inspire some kids to go onto a career in science. A family member of mine became an Electrical Engineer because they saw something on super conductors and thought ‘I want to know how they work’ and bang they had an interest to pursue. Before that they knew vaguely that they wanted to do something science and maths related but had no idea what. All it took was that spark. IFLS could provide that spark.

I just don’t see the problem with IFLS pointing out the wonders of the natural world on FB.

I’m not going into the rest of the post. Feel free to do so in comments if you wish.


Categories: arts & entertainment


7 replies

  1. Oh I can just see the author of that post. One of those very superior young men who reads Scott Adams for relaxation. He will always be sad that things like IFLS gain popularity while failing to appreciate his inherent wonderfulness.

  2. That was one very angry young man. The level of rage makes me wonder if it really is just the science that he’s upset about?

  3. Yeah, I had the same impression – one of those people who just likes to pick holes in things for the sake of the picking. Woe betide anything not be perfect…
    But you can argue a couple of his points. For instance, astronomical photography that makes you go ‘wow, the universe is a totally awesome place’ is absolutely science. That feeling is like the prize of science. I still remember the first time I saw the tensor calculus version of Maxwell’s Equations, where you get to sum up the whole behaviour of light, electricity and magnetism in four characters, and that was mind blowing.

  4. I feel qualified to comment. I’ve got a PhD, been paid to work as a scientist (not currently, but I don’t think you could drag the scientist out of me by now), I’ve met, worked with, talked to a lot of scientists in a fair few places, including at least three Nobel Prize winners in a ‘chat at the pub after the seminar’ way.
    And the author of above-linked article clearly has met far fewer scientists than I have, and I’m not sure he’s even read many issues of Nature or Science. Because the IFLS group is far more reflective of scientists and science as I know it than that rant is.
    He’s not missing out on SexyTimes because (RealTM) nerds aren’t sexy, but because whingers with grudges aren’t sexy. Although he does seem to want to redefine ‘nerd’ as ‘whinger with a grudge’.
    Ya know, I think this might be another example of how Patriarchy Hurts Men Too.

  5. Huh, Maddox is still around? He has lots of opinions not worth listening to, on many topics. I guess he’s a lesson that even if you ignore trolls, they don’t go away.

  6. Oh, fuck Maddox. He whines about everything and somehow people think he is cool. Didn’t know his page still existed.

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