People who excel in one thing are often tempted to think they are smart about everything.

However, that is almost never the case. To be fair, a lot of people who aren't good at anything think they are smart at everything, too. I've even known people who aren't good at anything who think they are smart about one thing.

However, they are usually wrong also. This got me to wondering if anyone knows anything about anything.

I think someone must know something about some things because we aren't all dead. And we have important things like electricity, air conditioning, musical instruments and ice cream.

It would be interesting to find out if Stradivarius ever felt the need to share his political perspectives with the world. I suspect he mostly let his violins speak for themselves.

There really is no reason to think that someone who is good at kicking balls has a great understanding about government.

And people who pretend to be something they aren't, that is actors, seem to pretend to know things that they know nothing about.

I hesitate to say that people who do know a lot about science and the material world often know very little about anything else like imagination, poetry or relationships.

I guess I didn't hesitate, did I?

Perhaps these tendencies are why people, who think they know something about things other than what they really know, tend to use profanity in expressing their views.

I guess if you are elected captain of the soccer team, you are qualified to profanely describe elected leaders of the free world.

Why, if you are a movie star who is good at pretending to be something you aren't, are you not a low-life when you issue foul-mouthed opinions about people who are held responsible for really accomplishing something, or not?

Why do biologists think they know anything about physics? But at least, when we talk about things we don't know, we try to do it civilly, if not eloquently.

Scientists aren't paid to be eloquent; but if we aren't civil, no one will listen.

So far science has escaped the tendency for ignorant and vulgar language.

I dread the day when I pick up a recent issue of the Journal of Parasitology and see research papers entitled The Effects of F#@&! Thiabendazole on Mo*^$##-F!@#$% Haemonchus contortus.

That is probably because we have our own abundance of jargon like, "The phospholipid bilayer allows for bidirectional transport of cellular metabolites via membrane pores and transmembrane proteins."

With talk like that, who needs #*&!^$%? Besides, we know what they "really" mean.

Many people with poorly expressed opinions have good causes.

The women's soccer team wants equal pay because they have a better record than the men's team.

That doesn't make sense regardless of their language. They should want more pay than the men because they have a better record.

Stating their argument with expletives and profanity certainly makes their case that they are superior.

I feel their pain. I think my discovery that Thiabendazole disrupts protein assembly during microfibril formation of cytokinetic activity should have been more handsomely rewarded.

I told the &$%# editor that, in no uncertain terms, but he made me pay for the publication anyway.

And why should my ex-friend Larry get paid more than me just because he was the first person to grow the human form of malaria in vitro?

Sure, he is smarter than me and was accepted into a powerhouse research program with big bucks to spend. Still, I'm more eloquent.

Well, it's just one more reason to encourage your daughters and sons (notice I listed them alphabetically) to be scientists.

Science appears to be the last bastion of civility and elegant language left in civilized society.

Oh, I know, lawyers will contest that claim. But look at what the effects of their language is compared to our simple search for truth.

Gary McCallister, gmccallister@bresnan.net, is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at Colorado Mesa University.

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