Catch the wave

The science that dare not speak its name

A couple of days ago, John Kerry was touring Cape Canaveral when the scientists asked if he was interested in seeing the inside of the space shuttle Discovery. Of course, he said yes; hell, who wouldn’t want to check out the inside of a shuttle? So he put on a protective jumpsuit and went in. At one point, someone took his picture …

… at which point it became a national controversy. Republicans — including Dick Cheney at a speech — mocked him for looking ridiculous. Conservative papers and TV shows nationwide went faintly berserk with glee, and even the New York Times devoted an entire piece to the outfit. The Washington Post actually ran an opinion piece carefully explaining that it was “An Unsuitable Costume For the Manly Candidate” … and that’s just the headline.

Of course, Kerry was wearing completely standard-issue scientific gear. He was dressed the way scientists dress all the time. Which is what makes this little media pile-on so chemotherapeutically nauseating — because of course, the point is that scientists are about as “unmanly” as you can get. If you’re a candidate on the hustings, you can dress up like a soldier, businessman, or fireman: All good stuff. But a scientist? Those guys are faggots. Everyone knows that.

Hey, I’ve got an idea. If political pundits and right-wing assholes find scientists such laughable fools, why don’t they all go live on an island somewhere utterly devoid of scientific progress past, say, the 13th century? Then they can all foam at the mouth with scurvy and beat each other to death with human thighbones.

I hate everything today.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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