On Tuesday, we published a short story by Carol Lynn Curchoe and today she is our Featured Writer. Check out our interview with her and her thoughts on writing and scientific literacy:
Fem: Have you always been a writer?
Carol Lynn Curchoe: Yes, although, I did not begin writing until personal word processing entered my life because my penmanship and concentration for things that involve fine motor skills is truly lacking ☺. I attribute word processing to changing my life course forever and ever happily ever after. Until then, I was a very frustrated writer who could not deliver the words in my head. Word processing planted its life-restoring kiss on my lips, waking me from my hand written nightmare.
F: Why is scientific literacy important to you?
CLC: Scientific literacy is SO important to me for two main reasons
The universe is magical, and the joy of discovery is transformative for people and societies. We can transcend our human condition and always have through science and technology, and hopefully always will. Homo habilis, Latin for able man or “Handy man” becomes Homo erectus, or upright man, becomes Homo sapiens sapiens, or thinking man. The Dark Ages were aptly named. The rise of Christianity in the Age of Faith killed off ancient science, and it took us as a species, many years to get back on track, economically, culturally and so on. The basic tenant of science can be summed up as “nullius in verba” or literally “on the word of no one” which can be translated as- see for yourself. Although there are hundreds of ancient examples, of the wonders of the world (electricity!) that have been discovered because of this tenant, I would rather give you some modern examples of what has been discovered as a result of scientists “seeing for themselves”. The Fem readers may find intriguing the story of the 1) the discovery of the Hubble Extreme Deep Field 2) the existence of a 5th ligament in the knee.
And 2) I am a crusader against anti-science extremism. People need to be able to understand the basics of science and technology to understand, say, if GMOs actually are evil incarnate like “everyone” says, (don’t even get me started on how much anti-GMO claims smack of Garden of Eden mythology…) or whether climate change is real and could be caused by burning fossil fuels, or even just to decide if they should eating a high carb/low fat or a low carb/high meat diet!!!
The current trend of making science political is not good, and the people who are running the show, such as the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, are not trained in the scientific method. If you look at the backgrounds of the members of this committee there are very very few actual scientists on it. These are the same people who deeply slashed NASA’s budget for “earth science” almost in direct retaliation for NASA raising the alarm on climate change this past year.
Too many Americans think that the earth is just a few thousand years old, that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs, that “creationism” should be taught in a “fair and balanced” approach along side evolutionary theory, and that you can pray the gay away.
I am the co-founder of a new project, a “passion project”!! It is called EduPaperProducts, and it is a line of home paper goods (napkins, placemats, paper towels) that are printed with a “STEAM” (science technology engineering and math) lesson, and is squarely aimed at increasing scientific literacy and making it an “every day” not a field trip type of thing. We want to avoid another “Dark Ages” but sometimes I fear that this wonderful country of ours dances a bit too close to the fire of anti-science extremism.
F: What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs?
CLC: Being an entrepreneur is hard. People are not going to believe in you. You will hear “no” all day long every day, you may be stuck in the valley of death For. Ev. Er. You may be the only person who believes in your idea. So many successful entrepreneurs start off this way, so know that you are in very good company. For example, the manufacturing process for EduPaper Products has been a bit of a nightmare, it has been a lot of no no no no. But, I KNOW we are going to figure it out, and when we do there will be no stopping us! You have to believe in your idea more than anybody ever will. And that will help you grow a thick, fleshy mantle that will protect your shoulders and spine from sickling under the weight of entrepreneurship. Just remember, you are a buffalo. Stubborn. Raging. Steaming from the nostrils and stampeding down the NOs.
F: Why do you think girls are so discouraged from pursuing the sciences?
CLC: Puberty. No seriously, I’m not being trite. As a reproductive biologist everything in my world-view can be boiled down to the pursuit of a mate. Until our society starts valuing this trait in girls, until it becomes attractive to potential mates I think girls will discourage themselves from pursuing science. Mothers and fathers want their children to find mates, so they will also, maybe subtly, discourage this r any behavior they think doesn’t fit into the paradigm.
F: How do you think your writing contributes to or improves scientific literacy?
CLC: I don’t shy away from using my science words, or writing about scientific topics, even when I incorporate them into fiction. I have written about veterinary medicine (horse fetal reduction in “In Bloom”), homosexuality and genetics, unscrupulous research conduct, vaccination, end of life care decisions and the brutal world of academia all under the guise of fiction. Most of my work is unpublished yet, but I am actively seeking publishing platforms for my short stories, which are being collected into a body of work called “The Tip Jar”.
Dr. Carol Lynn Curchoe is the founder of 32ATPs, LLC a biological energy development and consulting firm. She is a biologist whose work has been published in Biology of Reproduction, Stem Cells, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Dr. Curchoe’s interests include; advocating for scientific literacy, travel, cooking, yoga, reading, and writing, both fiction and non-fiction. She is the winner of the Wasatch Iron Pen (fiction, adult) for the short story “In Bloom”.