Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The scientific method is a pile of crap. We all learned it in grammar school. It's that whole load about making observations, forming hypotheses, testing hypotheses, analyzing data, blah, blah, blah.

Right now you're probably saying to yourselves, "Dave's wrong, the scientific method works, and it is the best way yet discovered for winnowing truth from error!"

Prepare to be shown the facts.

Fact 1. Scientists are wankers. Did you ever meet a "cool" scientist? Me neither. Science is composed of lamewads, gaywads, dorkwads, and Bill Nye who is actually kind-of cool. The scientific method doesn't work for these guys either. How many stupid ideas persist simply because nobody has proven them wrong yet? Almost all of them. It took mankind like 3 billion years to prove the earth was round. Way to go scientific method!

Fact 2. I didn't win the 6th grade science fair. This is in spite of the indisputable reality that my entry rocked the very foundations of Edgemont Elementary School.

Here's what happened: I was really into robotics back then. I wanted to buy a toy robot called Omnibot 2000. It could, like, bring you a glass of water or something. The problem was that Omnibot sold for over 300 bucks. To give you an idea, back then a candy bar sold for thirty cents. My allowance in a month was good for about 2 candy bars. The sum-total of all of the allowance I got my whole life would not have bought Omnibot. Instead I got Verbot. Verbot was Omnibots retarded little brother. He was voice-controlled. About one percent of the time he would do what he was told. The rest of the time he just stood there staring blankly. And he needed new batteries every five minutes. It sucked.

So I did what I always did with my toys. I took him apart. I also took apart some remote controlled cars, a tape deck, a doorbell, and a radio shack electronic experiment set. Then, armed with all the knowledge I could glean from the World Book Encyclopedia, I set out to make my own Omnibot. I had big plans. It was going to have a built-in tape deck, a hand to pick up a glass of water, a face with light-up eyes, radio control, and rechargeable batteries.

In the process of doing my research, I came across some other interesting ideas. For one, a robot should be autonomous. A robot is not a glorified remote control car, a real robot should be able to do cool stuff on it's own, like bring you a glass of water. (This is why I think the show "Robot Wars" is a crock and I hope they all blow up in their nerdy creators faces.)

I read about early robots that used paper-tape instruction sets. I read about computer programs that were self-evolving. And somewhere I came across an explanation of how sattelites orient themselves in outer space.

(Before you start getting all sceptical, you have to know that when I was twelve, I was about four times smarter than I am now. It was before I started killing off all my brain cells with untreated sleep apnea and a decade of BYU education.)

So I put the tape deck and the grabber arm on the backburner and decided my robot would be able to orient itself like a sattelite in space. If turned on in a dark room, it would run in circles. Then if you shone a flashlight at it, it would move toward the light. It was slightly more autonomous than some lame remote controlled car, but only slightly.

I don't remember what the other kids made, except that one was something to do with leaving an egg in vinegar for two weeks to demonstrate osmosis, a word they consistently misspelled on their display materials. And I remember that somebody else made a demonstration of erosion, which I think he recycled a couple of years later to get a merit badge. I'm sure somebody also made a vinegar and baking soda volcano.

But I didn't care what the other kids did, because I was guaranteed to win. I knew I would win, the same way I knew the earth was round. I mean, I didn't think for one minute that anybody would come up with anything as compelling as my robot that I made all by myself without my mom's help that could follow a flashlight around. What could be cooler than that?

Apparently erosion was cooler.

The judges felt that I hadn't adequately followed the steps of the scientific method. Also I think they thought I must have had help from my mom. Obviously they didn't know my mom.

On the way home from school that day, feeling dejected and hopeless, carrying a huge box of robot parts, a kid came up and asked, "How do you activate it?"

"You turn it on!" I sneered.



socali71 said...

Hey, did you just sign out as "Dorkwad" ??? I think you did Dorkwad. Hey Dorkwad, wtf. . . right back.

~j. said...

Did your mom at least bring you a glass of water?