In science, facts reign supreme and stand alone beyond the realm of emotions. This separation between information and emotion is critical for the scientific process, and in this kind of culture it becomes easy to minimize the human components that drive our societies. However, most people are not used to having their emotions trampled by facts in their daily lives, and the discomfort this causes can be a real barrier to communication.
Furthermore, there is a sort of seductive chauvinism that causes scientists to value their own way of thinking above others. Non-scientists should recognize the pattern: develop a value system where you are rich in virtue and then disdain outsiders who don’t rate as highly. It’s a universal strategy for establishing self-worth.
Unfortunately this perception has some merit. There are scientists that are arrogant. Some are driven by ego and grandeur and fame and jealousy and pride. There are some who are vicious and cutthroat in securing funding and throwing competitors in the mud along the way. It’s true. But these traits don’t exist because they are scientists, they exist because they are people. Every job, every workplace, has these people. Scientists want to believe they’re able to transcend their nature with intellect, but it doesn’t work that way: They are people first and foremost.
And that is a good thing.
Scientists are paid for their work, as we all should be. Corporations assemble new technologies into products that consumers are eager to buy, and those companies make a profit too. As scientists develop new technology that is translated into benefits for society, there are well-known reasons to be vigilant – the motto “trust, but verify” will always be wise when dealing with corporate profits, our health, and the environment.
Science is a miraculous engine that drives us toward these goals. At the end of the day we all benefit as we share the work of learning more about the world around us and translating that into a better society. A scientist is just a person who does this for a living.