This week is ‘Thank a Scientist Week’, where we get to express our appreciation for the immense positive impact that scientific research has on our lives. Where we get to recognise some of the extraordinary achievements of scientists who are broadening our understanding of each other and the world around us.
The problem is that I’m not sure what this does. I don’t really see scientists needing thanking for doing their jobs and following their passion. I think we all need to take a moment to do something by listening to what scientists say and acting like we believe them. Perhaps standing up in the face of simplistic anti-science drivel in the media. Perhaps writing to our MP and decrying the lack of funding and respect given to science. Perhaps questioning why we have our Chief Scientist write a report which we then ignore for overtly political reasons.
I’ve been noticing this a lot recently. The material difference between just saying thanks and acting like you mean it. Saying ‘thank you’ is important in almost all contexts: but there’s a point where it becomes meaningless words if you don’t match your actions to the sentiment.
So does saying thank you to scientists change anything? Maybe a little. But perhaps acting like we, as a country, mean it might be more useful on every level.