A rough estimate of the number of scientists globally

My wife and I don't make the same things, but we enjoy the process of making together.

She makes beautiful crafts. I make trouble. Together we made a family and a home.

Oh, I know that isn't much, most people do some form of it. But it seemed like a big deal to us.

If I build a home with wife and child, and a little house with a garden out back, it is not considered a very big accomplishment. Everyone does that.

But if I build a large business or organization that destroys the way of life that the family enjoyed, it is considered a great accomplishment indeed.

Economists tell me that humans are rational creatures and always do what is best for themselves economically.

That right there is why I don't think economics is a science. Their basic assumptions are all wrong. People do all sorts of things that are economically irrational.

My wife thinks I do all sorts of things that are just irrational period. Of course, I guess scientists also often start with incorrect assumptions.

For example, I know some people would rather have a boat than children. Some people would rather have time off than make more money. Some people want to become scientists knowing full well they'll never make much money.

Making a family and a home aren't very economical and yet a bunch of people want to make them.

Which one is rational and irrational to an economist?

Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to money. Profit-making businesses are always more reliable than social consciousness at delivering newspapers. That's just economically rational.

But it's interesting that often the people who own businesses don't live where the business is located. Politicians who pass laws governing land use seldom live on the land that they passed the laws about.

It was decided years ago that the efficient way to get things done was to make the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, in the same place.

Don't confuse efficiency with science. Science is hardly ever efficient.

It was called the industrial revolution. It has made a lot of money. But making money isn't making something. Money is just the idea we use to get the thing we really want, like a family and a home with a garden out back.

We don't have words to differentiate between making objects that exist in the real world and making abstract things like money.

Making war is not making at all, but destruction. Making laws are not things but ideas. Making noise is more about making than making laws. It's at least a sound wave.

We often say that science makes a discovery. But that is silly. You can't make a discovery; you can only discover it.

What about making people? It's a long process that requires making a mind, spirit, character; a person.

So, how do we do it? Every child must learn the same thing (standards), in the same way (classroom), at the same time (math at 10 a.m.), and in the same place (school building). It's economical that way, even if that means spending massive amounts of money to build the manufacturing plant (school) to do it in.

What do we make in a school manufacturing plant?

As I recall, I mostly made mistakes. After twelve years of practice, and having them routinely identified for me, I became very good at it. By making mistakes I learned a lot of stuff all the others didn't get to learn.

I've since discovered that a lot of my mistakes were simply due to paying too much attention to things no one else paid attention to instead of the things everyone else thought I should pay attention to.

And that's how I became a scientist. It appears that making crafts and making trouble are not the same kinds of things at all.

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

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