Scientist vs. Businessman

Those who excel in Science are often challenged in the world of business.  Popular belief seems to be that this because scientists tend to be “nerds” or “geeks” and those labels are associated with anti-social or reclusive behaviour, socially unacceptable personalities, and condescending attitudes.  The perception of the general public and mainstream media is that these brainy individuals are too socially awkward and intellectually intimidating to establish trust and close deals which puts them at a disadvantage in business situations.

The reality is that scientists and academically gifted people find the business world difficult to navigate  because the scientific and academic communities are based on very different principles and protocols than the those of business.  In science and academia sharing information, reaching consensus based on facts and logic, the open exchange of ideas, and building upon other’s work as matter of functional necessity are the operational paradigms.  By contrast, control of information, legal and financial leveraging, manipulation of perceptions, and opportunistic maneuvering are the common means of achieving one’s business goals.

The social lives of “nerds” and “geeks” are varied and rich and would probably surprise and even shock some people.  The social acceptability factor so relied upon by salesman and executives, is merely a veil of public appearances to make the dirty work of business look glamorous and fun.  At it’s heart, business is based on deception.  Substantial profit can only exist where perceived value is created by controlling supply and demand, manipulating public opinion of wants and needs, and using media and money to make “brands” ubiquitous and pervasive based on exposure alone regardless of any actual merit or usefulness.

The fact that business is the primary engine of all change and all movement in western societies and now spreading across the globe, should be of major concern to those who care about the advancement of science and human knowledge.  In the “free market economy” of today the world of science and the institutions of knowledge are enslaved by the economic and “legal” systems that govern the flow of resources and information. 

As technology becomes more complex and specialization is increasingly required, we become less connected with the big picture of what are working on and who we are working for.  It is therefore essential for social and collaborative science and technology to advance as quickly as centralized, proprietary, corporate controlled technology.  Social, technological, and economic movements like the Maker Movement, Open Educational Resources, the Open Source Movement, the Zeitgeist movement, the Thrive movement, and the Resource Based Economy movement are leading the way to a sustainable future.  The general public needs to become aware of these movements and the work they are doing and start actively supporting them

What can you do right now?  Next time you want to buy someone a unique gift, hire a Maker to customize one of the millions of 3D printable objects available online for your friend.  If you or your child is a student and needs help with an assignment or project, visit a site like https://www.oercommons.org to make use of the Social Learning community’s Opp Open Educational Resources.