When your job is a research job it is easy to spend plenty of hours in the lab and to work in international environments far from your hometown mainly developing friendships with other people involved in a research job leading to multicultural communities where it is possible to share ideas hypotheses and even more simplythe genuine passion and amazement that move every researcher to pursue his studies despite all the frustrations which come as the other side of the medal.
This looks like a beautiful scenario but it leads to some crucial consequences that should be taken into account. For each honest researcher every step of investigation independently on the research field is governed by the rule of the scientific method and every advance from a single experiment that works to the rare and great discoveries that allow the big jumps in our knowledge is welcomed with curiosity optimism and enthusiasm and with the pride to be even if as a little drop in the ocean part of the team. But what is missing?
For an insider it is crystal clear that science tries to explain natural phenomena and to apply the current knowledge to ameliorate technologies and life style and that every theory is just the starting point to push forward the scientific progress. But despite all this especially in the high-tech and wealthy western societies we are facing a symptomatic and anachronistic war against the scientific discoveries and we assist to the rise of movements which if at the beginning could be considered just as funny or pathetic are now having an impact on the society itself. Just to make an example we can consider the anti-vaccination group: there is no scientific reason to follow this theories still we are assisting to the representations of former eradicated pathologies and the consequences of that are there for all to see.
As a neurophysiologist talking about my research in non-scientific environments I face a sort of dualistic reaction: there is an innate curiosity and interest in my interlocutors which is often followed by a general worry/disbelief about the technologies we are now able to use to manipulate at least in rodents the brain functions. Given all the efforts every single researcher puts into his studies and considering that science is for the whole world I started wondering… what if in all these efforts we are forgetting something?
Life sciences more than other fields are closer to the everyday life: to think about the body physiology the brain functions the immune system function is morehuman-sized more familiar than debating about subatomic particles or galaxies. This sort of proximity however sometimes leads to the belief that everybody can be in charge to formulate his own theories but science is not based on democracy and the consequences of these are recapitulated in the paradigmatic case of the antivaccination group.
Unfortunately too often the scientific community is seen so far away by people and it is easier to follow non scientific accommodative conspiracy theories than getting closer to the realism of science. I think that this is first of all a point lost for the scientific community. And that is why from higher to lower levels each person involved in a scientific career should make an effort and reconsider the vital importance of an effective and capillary divulgation system. Sometimes we are too locked in our labs in our little groups of science friends which we do not even realize that most people have no idea of what we are doing. Even in conferences in the field sometimes the levels of specialization are so high that is difficult to follow the presentations of researchers.
anti-vaccination, optogenetics, immune system, anachronistic, brain functions, neurophysiologist