A Humanist's Sojourn Among Scientists

“One of the first scientists I spoke to, a highly decorated nanochemist, confessed in the most forthright way that he felt he had been duped. It turned out that his candor was typical.|But these physicists were more than helpful. They were downright friendly. They often had to stop to explain concepts that were elementary to them, but obscure to me. Though they were talking down to me, they made generous efforts to make it look like they weren’t….I find it significant that almost every humanist I’ve spoken to can easily summon up recollections of mean-spirited treatment at the hands of our own scholarly community.” Leonard Cassuto

I find it significant that almost every humanist I’ve spoken to can easily summon up recollections of mean-spirited treatment at the hands of our own scholarly community.” Leonard Cassuto

A Humanist’s Sojourn Among ScientistsChronicle)

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, I worked briefly writing press releases for the music department. When interviewing a faculty member about an upcoming performance, I asked all kinds of layman’s questions about a particular piece that was to be performed; what was the occasion for which it was written, what was going on in history and culture at the time, what should a visitor listen for during the performance that was unique or unusual? After answering two or three such questions, the faculty member rolled her eyes and said, “Just put the name of the symphony in the paper. The people who really want to see it will come; the rest wouldn’t get much out of coming anyway.” Bear in mind this was a music teacher. But a year or two later, when I was writing press releases for U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, a faculty member who was working on virtual reality goggles (this was in 1990 or 1991, so that was very cutting edge) took the time to demonstrate his work for me. When I asked him whether he spent a lot of his time giving demonstrations, he said that if he didn’t say “no” most of the time, the lab would be completely tied up with giving demonstrations.