On Scrotum Frogs and Authority

I read one of those articles today. And yes, it’s about scrotum frogs… which just happen to live in Lake Titicaca… But not being a twelve year old boy, I’ll have you know I clicked on that link out of sincere concern for the environment and an endangered species–which, yes, does happen to be named scrotum frogs–and which happens to be going extinct because people keep… uhm… eating them.

Shut up.

This is not about the scrotum frogs.

It’s about the article, itself, thankyouverymuch.

It’s about the number of times the article says “scientists”(2) or “conservationists”(1) vs. the number of times it uses the word “authorities.” (6)

And while I’m aware that it’s possible to be an authority on something… Or even–dare I say–to be the world’s foremost authority on scrotum frogs… “Working with Peruvian authorities” has a very different ring to it than say, “collaborating with Peruvian scientists” would.

I’m fascinated by the word choice. Fascinated by the implications of the word choice. Fascinated by the way it contaminates Science with politics, and power. Fascinated by the way it makes it sound as if there’s some kind of Peruvian scrotum frog conspiracy out there. As if scientists are out there, cogs in some kind of vast, scrotum-frog cabal that’s quietly jerking the world’s… strings.

As if Science, in general, works cooperatively, hand-in-hand with authority.

As if Science is just sitting around waiting for authority to tell it what it thinks, or at best, is willing to discuss the matter.

As if Science were up for debate.

As if you can elect different authorities, and get different Science.

That’s not how it works. No matter who is elected the Grand High Poobah of the Scrotum Frog Lodge, the frogs are still dying out. Disease can still be prevented by wearing masks and washing your hands.

Science is not a political statement.

You can’t vote to repeal the law of gravity.

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