The Geobola Virus

I complained in this recent post that geology does not get enough respect as an exciting, relevant, and important science. I wondered why that was, and today learned at least one of the causes. That is, the geobola virus. The geobola virus manifests itself as members of the geoscience community who do not appear to care at all about geology, or in it’s most virulent forms downright do not like geology. Infection can devastate a department, and may take years to recover from.

Things I heard professional geoscience educators say today:

“I mean, we spend so much time on all the rocks and minerals and it is just so boring!”

“They ask me ‘when are we ever going to need to know any of this rock and mineral stuff’ and I tell them the truth is you never will, it’s really just not relevant!”

The geobola virus eats departments from within, beware! It is contagious! Mortality rates are high!

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9 Responses to The Geobola Virus

  1. Anonymous says:

    I know the feeling. I am organizing activities for Earth Science Week. The grad students have been great in coming up with ideas, creating activities, and advertising them to the community. The upper echelon, however, so far have a poor participation record…

  2. Kim says:

    I have the urge to play “guess the subdiscipline”… but unfortunately, there are too many possibilities.I think that the geosciences lack a sense of self-definition. That’s kind of disturbing, because it’s not like the geosciences have spent the past half century being stagnant or anything. (I mean, first there’s plate tectonics, and then there’s the thinking about climate changes, past and present, and how their causes fit into earth history.)

  3. Yami McMoots says:

    Huh, that would explain why I have these radiolarian oozing sores!

  4. CJR says:

    <>“I mean, we spend so much time on all the rocks and minerals and it is just so boring!”<>Change “it is” to “I am”, and you’ve properly defined the problem.

  5. anon – that phenom must be another widespread and virulent strain of infection, I’ve seen it as well.Kim – yes we could play “name that subdiscipline”, and I bet you would nail it on the head.Yami – I was trying to make some analogy of the department hemorrhaging positive energy, if you find a cure for your own oozing, please let us know!CJR – I wanted to say that exact thing in response, decided not to because I am lowly post-doc dude, and then watched as someone else suggested that the lack of enthusiasm is conveyed to the students, and then all hell broke loose.

  6. Karen says:

    At Underfunded State University, it’s a damn sight easier to downplay the value of petrology than it is to find money for a new petrographic microscope.

  7. Karen – I can imagine, I think many department are lucky that petrographic microscopes last as long as they do! We even had a geoscientist in the uppy up administration (at a university with money to spare) and found that sell difficult.

  8. Andrew says:

    That’s funny: over on About.com, by FAR my most popular content is rocks and minerals, and the single biggest category of reader mail is “look at this picture, can you identify this rock?” It’s a testament of failure that educators don’t know how to capitalize on that inborn level of interest.This is related to your previous post about what order to teach high-school science. Eldredge Moores has been leading an uphill effort in California to get the other disciplines to use geological examples for teaching physics, chemistry and biology. Geology is the peerless integrative science. But it doesn’t use pure chemicals or ideal point masses, nor does it stand on its hind legs. To me, chemistry/physics/biology without geology is a sterile, lab-bound, remote subject, and all science instruction suffers from these missed connections.

  9. Harold Asmis says:

    From my northern perspective, I find that most of the US ‘public systems’ are drifting to the elitist end of things. Health care, housing, and education are the big things here.The Economist has always stated that family wealth persists through 3 generations: the first guy starts with nothing, the son (daughter) increases the empire, and the third generation are drug-popping elitists who piss it all away.So, education in the US becomes tailored to the people who want to become RIAA lawyers. Fundamentals (such as geology) no longer fit.

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