My name is Dr. Michael D. L. Johnson. I have a B.A. from Duke University in music (yes music but that story will come later), and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (yes the rival and that story will also come later). This is my science blog. Details of who I am will come later, but for now I will leave you with how this started.
I just want people to feel connected to the science that is being done. Feel proud, not afraid. So I posted something on Facebook and got some good dialog. Here it is, for better or for worse (hopefully for better).
“Yesterday I saw a talk from a prominent virologist. There was a bit of doomsday gloom with “what could happen” and it made me think of the way people think about scientific funding. People look at cancer, infectious diseases, and other illness’s and they get scared of what could be. So they say, we need to fund this project because I’m scared of the consequences if we don’t. That philosophy is clearly not working as many funding pipelines are drying up and it seems like fewer care as more begin to distrust. I acknowledge that there is fear of what scientist can do, or are capable of but please, reach out to us and have an open mind when we reach out to you. As we would believe you in how you do your job, have faith in how we do ours. Support us. Not out of fear, or even out of necessity. Support science out of pride, support science to be part of a solution, support science so that the latter will be greater. Yes, I know what it is that I am referencing there, how are we supposed to be put to work and take care of things that we don’t understand or worse yet, chose not to understand. Support us by trying to understand what it is we really do in laboratories because we like so many others are often not portrayed well on the TV screen. Support science to help mankind. Please understand that our discoveries are your discoveries, our cures are your cures, our triumphs are your triumphs.”
One great comment was “The increasing reports of misconduct and sloppy, irreproducible results is not helping science’s case unfortunately” to which I replied
“What do we do then? No system is perfect; there will always be bad apples. Is there behavior excusable? Certainly not. Should we hide the results? Not at all. But by virtue of those who call out the research, colleagues calling out colleagues, or better stated, those who are qualified to call out each other, we are trying to balance ourselves. In truth, those reports should make individuals untrustworthy while making the community stronger; highlighting the strengths of the scientific method and peer review systems. We as a community are actively checking ourselves. The system isn’t perfect, misconduct will always happen and it makes a much better story that a kinase that you have never heard about (no offence to the kinase people, I’m sure it is a very important protein), but this is precisely the reason we need the support because there are so many obstacles to overcome. There is so much good to be done, call it naive but it does not make the statement untrue. That is the call to arms, that is what people need to take pride in, that is the battle.”
Then one of my dearest friends suggested I start a blog to get to my audience. Well…game on!!!