My frustrations with academics angry at the general public: LONG POST
1. The incredibly high access barriers of cost & lack of proper preliminary education to someone who’d like to seek a university degree, let alone lack of access to the work that you qualify for if you are have access to these sort of degrees and happen to not look right to hiring people bars the majority of the human race from ever getting either the degree or, if they are lucky and do manage the degree with incredible loans - the job is harder even to get than the degree was. These barriers are higher for anyone brown, black, or indigenous.
2. The fact Google is no longer a reliable source for accurate academic data at the top of every single search on a topic that might be considered academic and that very few people know if you want facts you search GOOGLE SCHOLAR, *not* the regular Google search, means that clickbait is what everyone sees and trusts right off. That is not the public’s fault.
3. Academics need to educate on the public’s level rather than be angry with them for their natural curiosity and the fact they trust what was once a TRUSTWORTHY search engine.
THE LONG BIT FOLLOWS And no, it’s not a vague post, though something did happen which was a straw that broke the camel’s back sort of moment.
THE LONG BIT. A rant in response to someone in the sciences being angry that common folk have noticed that many archaeologists are not apparently communicating clearly, leaving the impression they don’t know about trade routes, as a discipline.
NOTE: THIS POST IS US CENTRIC BECAUSE I LIVE HERE AND AM MOST FAMILIAR WITH THE STATE OF THESE ISSUES HERE. I’d be *delighted* to hear what works and what doesn’t in the same area in your country! Please, give me a reason to be envious! <3
ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES, THAT, IF ADDRESSED, WOULD FIX THE CLICKBAIT VS ACADEMIC JOURNAL/BOOK READING DISPARITY:
Most of us are interested, but not rich enough, to BUY a non-academic book. (10-30 USD) and the state of US public libraries is atrocious, though they are fighting to stay with us. Beautiful, tenacious things! Academic books most often range much, much higher here. We’re talking (75.00-1,000.00k USD). I, personally, could just go to my uni library. I’m a graduate and we have lifetime access for free, IF WE ARE THERE IN PERSON. I’m out of state, a couple thousand miles away, and disabled. So even though I’m an alumnus, I don’t have access, either, and I’d love to have continued my research. But without that, I cannot.
Most of us would be delighted to be able to afford the education that neuroscientists, archaeologists, geneticists, physicists, astrophysicists, etc. have, but my BA cost, oh what was it - 25-30K USD either per quarter or per year (unsure which, it was quite some time ago). I graduated in 5 years. So, my BA cost was bonkers. I do know that science degrees often have higher associated costs IN ADDITION to the tuition. Which only sets that barrier higher.
MOST of the US also would love to have the TIME to read a 500 page learned book on anything they’re interested in, but when you must work 2 jobs to barely survive and when that does not actually even cover all your necessities, even if the academic text you want to read, which is behind a $100/year paywall is short, there just is neither time nor money for it. Not if you want to be able to be awake tomorrow to do your job well enough you don’t get fired AND eat breakfast or lunch at the same time.
MOST of the world still foolishly trusts GOOGLE to give the most reliable and trustworthy hits FIRST when they search a thing - failing to recognize the list is populated now by who pays them the most to BE on that first page. And that can be ANYBODY. That you actually have to look for GOOGLE SCHOLAR to get anything scientifically responsible.
WHY I AM IRRITATED WITH MANY ARCHAEOLOGISTS:
I was raised by an archaeologist with the same skills and knowledge you have. Spent much of my childhood unofficially on digs in South Korea, Washington State, US, and accidentally in Europe some. My problem is not with the discipline, but with how many people involved in it refuse to educate museum curators or the public about exactly these sorts of things while simultaneously ignoring all the accessibility problems listed above. Those of us who can even borrow to attend university are NOT AS COMMON AS WE LIKE TO THINK. Our experience is not and has never been even close to universal.
THE PUBLIC IS NOT AT FAULT FOR GOOGLE’S CHOICES OR FOR THE UNIVERSITY STRUCTURE IN THE US WHICH IS BOTH RACIST & CLASSIST AF.
Also, my specific reason to doubt that trade routes are common knowledge among ALL archaeologists is that the archaeologists who did the dig into the Silla tombs in South Korea found what is obviously to any CHILD (I literally was one and it was clear to me and my FATHER even commented on it as wild how far objects travel when humans want something NOVEL) who knows what Roman Glassware of that era looks like had noted that it COULD NOT BE ROMAN GLASS **BECAUSE ** IT WAS IN KOREA. The stupid burns and it was not perpetrated by a clickbait article but by a team of archaeologists who should have fucking known better.
This problem can be fixed BY SCIENTISTS TALKING TO THE PUBLIC IN THEIR I’M A HUMAN FANPERSONING OVER THIS NIFTY THING I GOT A DEGREE IN BECAUSE HYPERFIXATION ROCKS way. So easily. And they’ll believe you because you are RELATABLE and you actually KNOW. That’s how you disempower clickbait, science wonks.
APOLOGIES FOR THE LONG RAMBLY DISCONNECTED THING. I tried. Spent 7 years getting hit in the head, so stringing things together sensibly is a challenge. I hope you get what I was aiming at. WE CAN FIX THIS SHIT. BUT WE HAVE TO NOT BE HOLIER THAN THOU OR CLASSIST OR RACIST TO DO SO.
Green Lives Matter
My favorite Halloween costume from my childhood (age 10) was The Hulk.
For three reasons:
1. I made it myself
2. I wore it two years in a row
3. It made my outside look how I felt on the inside – tough but complicated
I cut up an old pair of jeans to look as though my tiny legs had busted through the seams and to make it appear like I’d grown taller. I took an old white dress shirt and shredded the sleeves to symbolize my biceps exploding in rage and slightly shredded away the length. I put black (safe) spray paint in my hair and painted my legs, arms and face in Hulk green to complete the look. There is a photo of this masterpiece somewhere in an old album, I just don’t have access to it right at this moment. I know I looked magnificent because I remember the feeling of hiding behind this larger than life character for a night while grunting for candy or else “HULK SMASH!” your front door down. I love this memory.
Now let’s address this – I did green face.
I refuse to apologize and if The Hulk wants to come find me and break me like a hard pretzel, well then he better bring backup because even though I am no longer painting my face green… I have turned myself into a Hulk. Ok, a mini Hulk. But I can conjure up a temper and throw a tantrum while also being completely unreasonable and void of real direction. So... yeah, he’s going to need someone other than Black Widow to come with him.
I should mention that I am white. And not just white – I am Scottish white (Scottish heritage, born in Canada). Fair skinned, blonde hair, green eyes and I once thought mashed potatoes were the best food of all time. Until I discovered garlic mashed potatoes. Mind blown.
“I love humanity, but I hate humans.” – Albert Einstein
Let’s not lie – being white has its privileges. Do I know what all those privileges are? No, probably because I’m privileged in some way. But I find myself going back to the same bit to explain so much that I encounter in life:
Until my high school guidance councillor explained to me what suicide was, I had no idea it was a thing. I had no idea it was a possibility and I certainly did not know that many people were actively participating.
My lack of knowledge wasn’t due to privilege but rather because suicide had never been apart of my life experience. Would we call that ignorance? Some definitely would because it literally means ‘being unaware’. I feel an ignorant person is not only being unaware, but also a first-rate wanker because they won’t educate themselves or evolve and wish to remain blind to reality.
Once I became aware of suicide, I didn’t pretend it didn’t exist. I started to pay attention. I didn’t brush it off as an experience that didn’t affect me but rather a symptom of fragile mental health and I gave it the consideration it deserved as something that many people were suffering through… most of the time alone. If I see something that is wrong, that I know needs my support – I am there.
That is not my privilege speaking, that is my humanity.
The senseless murder of George Floyd ignited a firestorm.
(A firestorm is a conflagration (an extensive fire which destroys a great deal of land or property) which attains such intensity that it creates and sustains its own wind system. It is most commonly a natural phenomenon, created during some of the largest bushfires and wildfires.)
When I saw the footage on the news – I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand the blank, almost twisted look on that officer’s face as he drove his knee down on George Floyd’s neck. I didn’t understand the blatant inaction of the other officers while witnessing this brutal extinguishing of a human being. I didn’t understand why this level of aggression was necessary on someone who was already subdued. And I didn’t understand why the words “I can’t breathe” didn’t invoke an ounce of compassion or relief.
Then came the protesting. Then the riots. Then the looting. And I still didn’t understand.
While some people want to group all three of these events, in my mind, these are three separate actions. Because by attaching the riots and the looting with the genuineness of the protesting… it lessons the cause, blurs the intention and distracts from the truth… therefore painting the protestors with a brush of violence, greed and chaos. And that is beyond unfair.
The PROTESTS are NOT out of control.
The pain and frustration are what’s out of control and more importantly the injustice is out of control and people are responding to a situation where they feel angry and powerless. Yes, the fires, destruction of property and looting are awful collateral here but it’s important to not loose focus on what caused this current situation. We often look at with contempt and criticize reactions while forgetting the action that started everything.
And that is another injustice.
I wouldn’t even know how to begin writing about Black Lives Matter or Antifa. I say this because of the controversy surrounding both movements. And if you dive deep enough into the internet, like I did, you too will begin to suffer from what I like to call ‘I don’t know what to fucking think anymore-itis’.
So, I’m going to escape talking about these two groups with this:
“Instead of feeling threatened by and hating a movement, be glad you don’t need a movement.”
My experience with black people is pretty limited. Not by choice, but rather due to geography, common interests and quite possibly socioeconomics. I can count on one hand the number of black people I knew throughout my school-aged years. My area was diverse in other ways, so no, I did not grow up in White Breadville. I mention all this to lay down a bit of background before I continue.
“I don’t see colour.” How many of us have said this at least once in the last six months? I have. And I probably said it to prove to myself or someone else that I wasn’t racist. But I no longer say that… because the truth is, I do see colour. I see ALL the fucking colours and they are beautiful. It’s people who are ugly.
If you were to ask me point blank if I was racist, I’d tell you point blank – I am not. And I’d say this with absolute belief in my character and sincerity. I care less about your skin colour and nationality and more about you returning your shopping cart to its proper location. That is the truth. Your religion doesn’t bother me at all (as long as you’re not cramming it down my throat) but your ability to treat others with genuine kindness and compassion sure matters to me. And I don’t give a flying fuck how you want to identify… be a Martian, I’m totally cool with that, but bully others in my presence and I will come at you with the full force of nuclear pasta (look it up).
The last handful of months (I’m assuming here) has caused most of us to pull up and examine those deep in the corner of our brain concepts. You know the ones – the ones that might get you questioned by The Thought Police if they existed outside of fiction. It’s ok, we all have those little bastard notions creeping around… no matter the skin colour. I started to take a closer look at some of the things I think and how they would affect others if I wore those thoughts on a t-shirt. Needless to say, I’m not super impressed with myself. Because while I know with all my heart that I am not a racist person, I do recognize that I buy into and perpetuate some stereotypes. And I have zero excuses. This admission makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I’m ok with that… I can learn through discomfort.
I hear many people talking about and referring to white guilt.
- White Guilt: ‘the feelings of shame and remorse some white people experience when they recognize the legacy of racism and racial injustice and perceive the ways they have benefited from it’.
I do not feel shame and remorse as a white person. As a human being, I am ashamed of how many of my fellow humans treat those who do not look the way they do or do not come from the same background. Do I believe there is a legacy of racism and racial injustice? Yes, 100%. Have I benefitted from this because I am white? I may be too dumb to answer this correctly. Or maybe too white? Or maybe I’ve had blinders on because based upon my own level of perception, I’ve always struggled to navigate my own existence therefore only know what has directly prevented me from being who and what I want in this world?
I underlined ‘level of perception’ because as the quote goes: “I stopped explaining myself when I realized people only understand things from their level of perception”
Earlier I said there were so many things I didn’t understand about George Floyd’s death and the protests etc. but here is something I do comprehend - there’s a big difference between understanding someone’s plight and being understanding of someone’s plight. Sympathy doesn’t require a total understanding of what problems other people are experiencing.
I may not fully grasp the struggles of those in the black community because it is not my experience but I will not ignore, deny or challenge their struggles. I will however educate myself on the issues, observe my own reactions and offer support in the ways I can and offer compassion to anyone who is willing to accept a little love from a min Hulk.
Nothing I write here is meant to change your mind. It is not meant to offend or shame you for how you may feel or think and nothing I write here is meant to lessen the seriousness of the current situation facing an entire community of people. As a writer my only goal is often to just disrupt your thoughts. Period.
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