A scientific mindset keeps wonder alive
"To the natural philosopher there is no natural object unimportant or trifling…A mind that has once imbibed a taste for scientific inquiry has within itself an inexhaustible source of pure and exciting contemplations. One would think that Shakespeare had such a mind in view when he describes a contemplative man finding,
'Tongues in trees - books in running brooks
Sermons in stones - and good in everything.’
Where the uninformed and unenquiring eye perceives neither novelty nor beauty, he walks in the midst of wonders.”
-John Herschel, “A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy,” 1830. Quoted in Holmes’ “The Age of Wonder.”
I may not be a scientist, but I think this applies to anyone who has had even the beginnings of a scientific education. I got the start of one with a group organized by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History called The Student Naturalists and then Future Scientists from middle until high school. We hiked, mostly, but we also learned how to identify species, caught insects, ran a survey of river invertebrates, and heard many lectures in the field about geology, environmental science, and biology.
Having a deep curiosity as to the “why” and “how” behind things keeps me happy. Thanks to popular science books and programs, school, and CMNH I had a raging obsession with science as a kid and adolescent, and even if it never resulted in me going to college for it, it gave me a solid footing for remaining perpetually amused for the rest of my life.
I wish that the love of science was as common as the love of pop culture, sometimes. Maybe we’d be a more efficient society, and maybe we as a population would be smart enough to avoid our imminent self-destruction through resource overuse.
I say that and yet what am I doing with my mind for my career - making marketing websites? Argh! What! Did I take a wrong turn?
(Dude, I need to send this as a letter to CMNH as a way to get them to restart the program, adding some more grafs about the specifics, but for now, it’s going up here.)