14 November 2007

Forgotten how to laugh

I've been watching repeats of Have I Got News for You lately, which, now I think about it, strikes me as a rather pointless exercise, being as all the news in them happened months ago... I think it's a work avoidance tactic.


I watched a show the other night with a fellow science communicator and an archaeologist. At one point, Paul Merton and co. were taking the mickey out of a scientist for getting over excited about spaghetti physics. A comedy photo of said scientist (honoured at last year's Ig Nobels) was shown wearing a white lab coat, eyes near popping from his head at the sight of raw spaghetti breaking.

General hilarity and derision ensued; as, we're taught, is often the case when science comes under the scrutiny of the media. Both science communicators sat silently, intestines tying themselves in knots no doubt, while the archaeologist chortled along with Merton obliviously.

This was last year's Ig Nobels. They're meant to be funny, dammit.

Really, I thought afterwards, no wonder science communication is in a state. We've had it drummed into us for so long that it's WRONG to stereotype scientists and EVIL to laugh at them, that we've not an ounce of humour left for white coat jokes, even Paul Merton's. What a shame.

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