Did I fail biology, or did biology fail me?

I’ve often thought that scientists are onto a clever racket.

Most of us, baffled by the mere mention of anything vaguely mathematical or technical, immediately bow to the seemingly superior brains of the scientific, blindly believing any old claptrap they may spout.

Remember the time they purposely programmed every computer to read the year code “00” as 1900 instead of 2000 and then spent years rabidly prophesizing doomsday scenarios where planes dropped out of the sky, the till at Tesco charged you £3 million for a can of fruit salad and nuclear reactors went into meltdown giving us all radiation sickness by 12.05am, January 1 2000?

Or the time they told us they’d found “the missing link” at Piltdown? Or when they said the earth was flat? Or when they claimed cigarettes and excessive alcohol were bad for you?

It was all rubbish. Nonsensical tripe from people who were trying to reanimate roadkill in the attic with lightning and nail varnish remover when their friends were hanging around in bus shelters experimenting with the opposite sex.

Of course the young scientists wanted to experiment with girls too. But there are laws against that kind of thing and besides, it’s difficult to muffle screams when you’re holding a Bunsen burner in your other hand.

Concerned that the general population is as narrow-minded and blinkered as I am about science, the Government has launched a zany new drive to convince teenagers that the subject is exciting and fun, rather than deathly boring, favoured by the kind of people who will lose their virginity to a vacuum cleaner and full of statistics that make your head spin.

There I go again. I need to walk across an inflatable pool containing enough custard to make 875 trifles to illustrate that my weight can be partly supported by starch molecules – that’ll change my damn mind, and change it good.

The custard stunt (there’s a spoonerism if ever there was one) was staged at Edinburgh’s Trinity Academy after research revealed that young people believe science in schools is “geeky and dull”.

“Science is not all about lab coats and pipettes,” said the snappily-named Education and Lifelong Learning Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, “it’s about finding out how life works and how we can make it better.”

Fiona Hyslop left no stone unturned in her bid to make science sexy for teenagers.

Fiona Hyslop left no stone unturned in her bid to make science sexy for teenagers.

I learned enough in science to know that my brain cells are dying as I hurtle into my late 30s, but even I can remember that there were no giant inflatable pools of custard to walk across when I was at school.

Instead, there was the periodical table to learn, the individual bones in the ear to memorise and three weeks of red-hot flower porn involving stiffened stamens and explosions of sticky pollen to sit through.

The closest we got to excitement was when the classroom had to be evacuated after someone smashed a thermometer sending mercury bouncing across the floor. We all really learned something about science that day – and as a result, far more thermometers were smashed when things got really dull.

One paddling pool of custard does not a summer make. I passed my science O levels (apart from biology, but I managed to reproduce fairly effectively, so IN YOUR FACE, BIOLOGY), so I’m scientifically qualified to say that.

PS My science hatred was fuelled by the below press release I received several weeks ago. I have highlighted the one interesting element of this lecture:

For immediate release

Free lecture on the mystery of bread

Bread will be on the menu at a free public science lecture at the University of East Anglia on Thursday, February 5.

‘Bread, the baked enigma’ by Prof Peter Belton, will explore the uniqueness of gluten in molecular terms. The lecture is the second of three in UEA’s Faculty of Science’s ‘Talking Science at UEA’ programme for 2008-09. ‘Realistic modelling and synthesis of talking faces’ by Dr Barry Theobald from the school of Computing Sciences takes place on April 2.

All events are held in Lecture Theatre 2 at 7.30pm. Admission is free, with a wine reception following each lecture.

Sorry I sent the details too late for any of you to attend. See you at Realistic Modelling and Synthesis of Talking Faces on April 2.


11 Responses to “Did I fail biology, or did biology fail me?”

  1. February 26, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks for nothin’ WIB. Due to your photo of Ms. His-slop I had to retire to the men’s room for a good 30 seconds to “take care of business”. Now I am swamped with work!

  2. February 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I’m still disappointed that GCSE Physics didn’t involve giant Tesla coils, gloating, death rays, hunchbacked assistants, and WARPING THE VERY FABRIC OF REALITY ITSELF! Mwuh-hahahahaha!

  3. February 27, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Take that science! A long overdue kick in the ribs for the mock profession that is science. I visited a lab once, and they all looked really busy, what with the lab coats and microscopes. Then, when they thought I had left, everybody whipped off their lab coats and started partying to Kenny Loggins music!

  4. February 27, 2009 at 9:28 am

    at first I misread that sentence and thought you were writing about a “custard slut”

  5. 5 Arno
    February 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I am merely disappointed that Fiona Hyslop is not the person in that picture. *shakes his fist at Google images*

  6. February 27, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    TL – His Slop – God, you are a legend.

    Michael – you don’t surprise me. There are no depths that scientists won’t plumb.

    NM – A custard slut – there has to be a market for that kind of thing. I shall consult Inspector Google.

    Arno – she’s whatever you want her to be. Oh, hang on, only if you’re the Prime Minister, apparently. Curses.

  7. February 28, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Three Words:


    ’nuff said.

    Oh and regards, “Or when they claimed cigarettes and excessive alcohol were bad for you?” That was rather evil of them wasn’t it? Thinking this to be true meant that I couldn’t continue to kill myself guilt-free.

  8. 9 sarah
    June 15, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    what is your problem with fiona hyslop? she makes things better for education, you just think your too good for help. : – /

  9. June 15, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    ‘You’re’, Sarah, ‘you’re’. But thanks for putting me straight, I shall point Fiona Hyslop in your direction with a dictionary.

  10. June 24, 2011 at 1:39 am

    I love the teenage sexy girl’s

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