I See Poetry in the Scientific Process
I walk two paths: One is that of logic in my career as a scientist. In this field, it’s critical to remove emotion from the picture as much as possible. I work as a cystic fibrosis (CF) scientist so that isn’t always easy, but it is important. The other path is as a writer. My best work is infused with emotion, poetic language, grandiose imagery, and contemplation. Writing as a side job to full-time scientist work gives me a unique perspective of the scientific process.
Science itself is unbiased. However, the practice of science can be biased. For example, scientists often have an idea of what they are looking for, so confirmation bias can play a role in whether they choose to pursue certain types of experiments and approaches to a scientific inquiry. Once data supports or refutes a scientific hypothesis, it’s likely that the scientist will lean into that path, believing it could be the right direction. It’s important that scientists avoid definitive language like, “This data proves my hypothesis is correct.” It takes time to sort through the data to determine causation or correlation and for hypotheses to be shown through reproducible experimentation performed by various scientists and labs.
Science and scientists are misunderstood. Scientists are passionate. Science is beautiful, seeking out the truth of the world we live in. Scientists are driven by the desire to uncover what makes our world the way it is. We are united by our shared motivation, but the belief that all scientists are the same or have similar perspectives is inaccurate.
I live as a scientist, a writer, somebody with CF … and a person who is more than any of those individual roles. But all those roles are intertwined. My scientific and logical mind wants to understand CF as best as possible to help me feel like I am in control of my future.
The poetic, writing side of my mind wants to convey life — including all of its beauty and ugliness — in the language of which it is deserving. My life as a person with CF equally fills both of these roles, which developed from my experience with CF.
Science can feel like a club – albeit one some may not consider very “cool” – and sometimes being on the outside of that club can make science seem ill-defined.
I want to use my lab experience to explain what science is. As mentioned above, the scientific community is driven by the pursuit of the truth, whatever that may be. The “truth” is an amorphous term, but a simple definition is that truth explains why certain things happen in the way that they do. I think that how we ascertain the truth is more important.
The scientific process is the first and holiest commandment in a community that seeks to uncover the world’s truth. In the case of CF: How CFTR works normally, how it works in CF populations, how antibiotics work, how different strains of bacteria interact with each other in a CF-affected lung, and many other discoveries. Scientists conduct experiments they have developed that they believe will determine the feasibility of their hypothesis. Science is an incremental and collaborative endeavor; scientists must work with one another by utilizing research carried out elsewhere to support or refute their hypothesis. They write papers to explain their research using compendiums of data that are reviewed by other experts in the field — this is known as the “peer review” process.
Theories in science gain traction slowly and take a long time to be generally “accepted.” This is because, as a whole, the scientific community has a broad range of opinions about theories, which means they require a substantial mass of evidence to be accepted. Most importantly, the community is driven by the pursuit of the truth and won’t settle for the easiest explanation.
Life is poetic and it is logical; it makes perfect sense and no sense at all. Life is science and it is writing.
And at the end of the day, our human side just wants us to continue growing in understanding of our beautiful journey.
Follow along with Tré’s other writings on his humbly named site, www.trelarosa.com.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.