In which I put a damper on all this over-invoked passion.
Regular readers of this blog (you know who you are, you two – stop giggling at the back), or of others in the OT stable where I can be found grumbling in the comments, will know that I have an abiding loathing – you might even call it a *cough* passionate *cough* hatred – for PR bullshit, promotional-speak, and the misuse of language in things like job adverts.
This came up just yesterday in a conversation after Sylvia Mclain’s latest interesting blogpost on ‘The Life Scientific’. As we discussed over there, most scientists are committed to their work, and to the idea of science as a way to try and discern as much of the truth about the natural world as we can. Let’s face it, you would have to be pretty seriously committed to it to put up with stuff like this. Or this. Or this.
…WHY THE **!* does that commitment mean that people always have to reach for that over-used, and abused, word, ‘passionate’?
A few years back, job adverts in science always asked for people who were ‘enthusiastic’.
No longer, though. The bar has been raised. Now you have to be, not dreary run-of-the-mill enthusiastic, but passionate.
I was reminded of this again today when the British Pharmacological Society tweeted this:
Now, though I am not a member of the BPS, they are a sister society to the Phys Soc, and I’ve worked almost all my career in joint physiology-pharmacology departments so lots of my friends and colleagues are members. Anyway, I feel a sort of kinship. But, while I am a longtime advocate for ‘Education and Outreach’, there are some things that you simply can’t let go.
So I tweeted back:
This generated a few responses from the Twittersphere, including one from a Twitter pal of mine, an ex-postdoc and medical writer whose Nom de Tweet is @DrunkenOaf.
He pointed me to the following excellent clip, where comedian David Mitchell gets on his Soapbox and gives the modern promotional misuse of ‘passion’ a good old-fashioned kicking. I was cheering Mitchell on all the way.
Interestingly, David Mitchell CLOSES his argument with an example from the world of – you guessed it – Universities.
No, no, I’m not going to tell you which University is
‘Passionate about everything we do.’
You’ll just have to watch the clip and find out.