To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Year 4: Part 4: Post 3: Science!

The 4th fell on a Friday in 2003. This is written as though today were the following Monday.-D.

Happy 4th of July.

As has become usual, I all but ignored the holiday and made no attempt to go see fireworks. Greg didn't even do his traditional talk--he put it off until Saturday--because Friday evening is reserved for the dorm dinners. Any day you can eat in your dorm, there's food provided, but Friday is the day actually set aside for us to connect as a group over a meal. We took our food out to the Edge of the World and had a picnic. Afterward, we played Ha-Ha, which consists of lying down in a row, with each person's head resting on the next person's belly, and the first person says "Ha!" then the next person says "Ha! Ha!" and so on, until sooner or later someone cracks up, and then you all laugh. And your head goes up and down with the laughter of whoever's tummy you're lying on.

It was nice.

But I've realized I've gotten almost half-way through the summer semester without describing any of my classes. I have three, not counting Reiki and manifestation, two with Greg and one with Charlie.

The class with Charlie is Science Literature. When I first saw the name, I thought it would be like Literature of the Land, which I took with Charlie last year, or like Earth Science Literacy, which was a required class my first year. It's neither, and the course description made clear it would be neither, but somehow I was still surprised by how much itself the class is.

Charlie had it start with a short skit, acted out by students borrowed from another class.

One student stood in the middle, wearing a lamp-shade on her head. Two other students had a conversation about the Lamp-shade Woman, speculating about what she was and how she worked, asking questions of her, and trying things out. Eventually they worked out that 1) she was an Oracle, 2) that she would provide an oracular reading to anyone who gave her $53,000, and 3) that she was usually wrong.

Then, another person walked up, asked about the lamp-shade, and was told by those in the know that the woman was an Oracle, but not to bother consulting her.

"How dare you dictate what I believe in!" the newcomer exclaimed. "I will resist your tyranny and seek the truth however I see fit!" and he left, arm-in-arm with the Oracle.

"Dude, we were just trying to save you $53,000," one of the others said.

The whole point of the class is to teach us how to read and use the scientific literature so as to avoid acting like the newcomer who went off with Lamp-shade Woman. Charlie says that science is a conversation in which people share and discuss what they know about how the world works. He says that whether we're interested in science as such or not, we need to know what science is and what it does and how to take advantage of it, so we don't mistake intellectual laziness for an openness to truth.

"There is nothing iconoclastic or or occult about not bothering to get up off your bum and find out what other people know."

So, we're reading and summarizing and discussing scientific papers from a variety of disciplines, and each of us has to do a literature review on a chosen subject by the end of the semester--except, instead of actually writing out a formal review, like we'd do if we were scientists in training, we're just supposed to write a summary of our findings and then write out the story of how we found our findings, and share that story with our classmates.

We're doing some writing, too--Charlie gives us descriptions of experiments and data and we have to write it up--but that's just so we can really get a feel for how this type of writing works. He isn't having us do experiments.

"Do, or do not do," he says. "I won't have you pretend to do science."

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