The theory of relativity? Get a life!

17th January 1997 at 00:00
I was delighted to see that Professor Alan Smithers of Brunel University has at last said what we all know - that liking science and liking people are mutually exclusive.

During 20 years as a careers adviser, I have never once met an A-level science student who was articulate, had any friends, or any sort of personality that might appeal to another human being. None had ever taken part in team sports or musical and dramatic activities, or had any position of responsibility within a school. They would always shuffle into the room for their careers interview, mumble incoherently for a few minutes, without looking up, and then shuffle out. I have always felt so sorry for them; that any 17- or 18-year-old should choose to dissect a frog, or prepare iodoform, or consider the theory of relativity strikes me as very sad.

Fortunately, the careers that science students enter do not require inter-personal skills or the ability to work, and communicate, with others. Medicine and engineering are two clear examples.

Similarly, scientific and technological research obviously do not need teamwork, as well as being dull and unproductive.

It's no wonder that we never see any programmes on television with enthusiastic scientists and engineers; they could not string two words together or present to an audience. We never get any exciting role models of surgeons, technological whizz-kids or forensic scientists in drama series. Who has ever heard of a scientist who has entered politics?

Am I being a bit heavy-handed for the new year? I don't think so. Any broad sweep that brushes the science-oriented and the person-oriented into two distinct piles seems even more heavy-handed, and to be treated with caution at least. Then again, maybe I miss the point. Those two years doing A-level physics, chemistry and maths, then the science degree, and the five years in civil engineering must surely have taken their toll of any understanding of other people that I may once have had.

BILL ROBERTS 29 The Rise, Tonteg, Pontypridd

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