Who you callin' a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist?

Mary
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Given the recent controversy over our use of the word "mad" to describe a particular scientist (albeit one whose work we admired), we thought we'd take a moment this week to plumb that stereotype instead of jokingly pinning it on a real person. Because we're lazy -- actually, it's because we're currently trying to close the new issue of the magazine, which is all about wacky science! -- we went straight to the Wikipedia entry, and it turned out to be pretty good. For instance, we found out that mad scientists:

  • often pursue careers in astrophysics, biology, electrical engineering, chemistry, physics, robotics, and a host other fields including "archaeology, at least where magical artifacts are involved."
  • do NOT generally enter the fields of civil engineering, pure mathematics, social sciences, meteorology, metallurgy, and "geology, except where trying to destroy the world."
  • unlike "evil geniuses," generally have good intentions. "For example, a mad scientist would test the bounds of science to create an army of zombies, [but] he would only do this so as to see if he could."
  • were the villains of 30 percent of British horror films released between 1930 and 1980, but (quite unfairly, we might add) the heroes of only 11 percent.
  • are almost always white (and presumably straight) males.

This last one really gets our goat. Down with discrimination! Black lesbian mad scientists, it's time to rise up!

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October 4, 2006 - 10:28am
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