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Thread: What makes a scientist

  1. #1 What makes a scientist 
    The Doctor Quantime's Avatar
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    I've been thinking about the definition of a scientist but not many realise it. In my spare time I work on theories and calculations for those theories. I do research.

    I philosophise and try to rationalise behavior and write my findings down. I do that not as a profession. So is that what makes you a scientist? Do you have to have done a degree or a pHD to become one?

    I've never really thought about this. I've put down on numerous places that I class myself as a scientist but get laughed at, I've questioned them as to why they doubt me being one and ask what one actually is, and they are stumped for an answer. Whats going on?

    What do you think makes a scientist?


    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Wikipedia defines the restricted use of the word "scientist" as one who is an expert in a specific field of science, I agree.


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  4. #3  
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    I think of a scientist as one who is employed as a scientist. It's a job description much as a janitor or a garbage man is. That's my view on the subject anyways.

    However that still doesn't take away from ones intelligence. A garbage man can me more intelligent than a scientist and vice versa, it doesn't lessen the impact your hobby makes on the life of others if you discover somethign new and prfound.
    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt" - Bertrand Russell
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  5. #4  
    Time Lord
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    What makes a builder? If a person frames up a house, and it stands, that person was a builder. Failed attempts don't count. If a person does it professionally - and the buildings stand - that one is a builder.
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  6. #5  
    The Doctor Quantime's Avatar
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    But the art of building, is not limited to being a builder. For instance one can attempt miserably at building, but is still performing the art of building. So therefore one can be building, but not actually be a builder. One could make a small shed and become a builder. So the definition of builder you state is to succesfully construct a building flawlessly. But that cannot be true because nothing is ever perfect.
    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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  7. #6  
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by 425 Chaotic Requisition
    But the art of building, is not limited to being a builder.
    Sure, and applying scientific methods, is not limited to being a professional scientist or even a deliberate one. Science can happen inadvertently:

    "I saw my pop had nailed half the floor joists 24 inch apart, and I thought that too weak but didn't say nothin'. I just did my half at 16 inch..."

    Moreover, if someone's doing science, you can say "scientist" in context of the action. If you fall off a ladder, execute an acrobatic triple axle and handstand landing, you are an acrobat for that moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by 425 Chaotic Requisition
    One could make a small shed and become a builder.
    Not "become"; you're only a builder while performing the action. Unless you make building sheds a lifelong activity, that defines who you are.

    Quote Originally Posted by 425 Chaotic Requisition
    So the definition of builder you state is to succesfully construct a building flawlessly. But that cannot be true because nothing is ever perfect.
    Why flawlessly? If the structure stands, it's a building, and whoever built it was a builder, even a lame or haphazard builder. You could nail a temporary brace on something, have it knocked out later by another builder - you'd still be acknowledged as one of the builders.

    We're descending into semantics. :? Let's ditch this.

    Try something else: Robinson Crusoe was certainly a vigorous builder & thinker. He learned from mistakes and progressively built bigger, smarter, better structures. He also was a keen horticulturalist. He began with just a few chance wheat seeds embedded in the lint of his pocket, developed an efficient system of crop rotation and pasturing. He experimented, carefully, using control groups of goat populations and so forth. Kept a journal of his findings. Crusoe definitely employed scientific methods.

    Enter Friday, warehouse of native sagacity. Friday was a know-it-all, through education. He held impressive knowledge of local tidal currents, for example, "Row the canoe to this lagoon, when the tide ebbs and the East breeze blows, wind and wave will carry you to that exact spot (points) over on the mainland." Cool, and save your life maybe, but Friday's no scientist.

    To Friday, Crusoe must have been a scientist by every definition of the word. But suppose there was no Friday, rating, and no return to Europe. Was Crusoe a scientist then, isolated & his journal turned to dust? Would we mark "Scientist" on his grave?
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  8. #7  
    Forum Junior DivideByZero's Avatar
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    I believe that there are two types of scientists/builders/etc.

    1. A builder is one who builds for a profession.
    2. A builder is one who builds for a hobby (and profession).

    There is no one definition because it is used so widely. However, I believe the latter definition is of a true builder.
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  9. #8  
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    I think in order to be recognized as a scientist while doing it as a hobby, you will have to make some notable discovery. Until then you will just be seen as a dilettante.

    That's not to say it can't be done. My favorite scientist, Thomas Young, was a physician by profession. He pursued his scientific studies in his spare time, yet he managed to achieve expertise equal to the top scientists of his day, in more than one field of science. But he was a genius.
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  10. #9  
    Time Lord
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    So recognition as a scientist requires good work, or membership in the community.

    Yet DivideByZero feels, I think, a true scientist is one who has the spirit to do science for it's own sake.
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  11. #10  
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    "Scientist" comes from the Latin word for knowledge, "scientia." So, looking at a scientist as sort of a "knowledge-ist," I'd say in a general sense a scientist is someone who pursues knowledge... And also, I feel that a quality that scientists (whatever they actually are) posess is a constant seeking of the truth... anyone agree?
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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  12. #11  
    The Doctor Quantime's Avatar
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    Yes. Thats sounds just right, its more philosophical and it makes more sense than some others. Its interesting listening to other peoples views isn't it?
    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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