Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Earth scientists and their problems with one another

  1. Feb 8, 2007 #1
    I have noticed in my time a tension amongst the various groups of earth scientists. I'm a geophysicist (wannabe), I have heard fellow geophysicists (lecturers) make disapproving remarks about all other specialists in the earth sciences:

    The geologists are innumerate and are worth nothing without geophsyics.
    The palaeobiologists are innumerate stamp collectors.
    The geochemists are fundamentally misguided and untrustworthy (and innumerate but to a lesser extent than above).
    The environmental scientists are leeches.
    The planetary geologists are just geophysicists with telescopes (but they're crap at geophysics).
    Blah blah blah.....

    I personally have friends from all these fields and I admire them and their work, I've heard the geologists get back at the geophysicists: the geophysicists are just computers, it's all just numbers and they need geologists to make sense out of it..blah...blah...blah

    I guess that's my mini rant out of the way; why can't we all just get along?

    p.s. I'd really like to hear some of your stereotypes
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2007 #2
    Isn't that just a stereotypical view of the situation?
  4. Feb 8, 2007 #3
    I know what you feel. I thinks its personal ego's and promoting self-worth and promoting the field one works in to further promote one's ego/name/prestige/career/etc...like a loop.

    Its the fact that once you become "expert" in something you think your stuff is the more fundamental and that you understand the other stuff more since your stuff is more important, etc. You connect emotions (due to long hours spent on the topic before becoming expert) to your work and 'knowledge'. Once a group of such ppl meet than its just a hive mind.

    I think once ppl realize that their knowledge is nothing permanent and/or their views/knowledge and perceptions are limited in scope and depth and really spent time expanding it in other fields to get better perception it would all disappear. Ultimatelly we all need to get together to figure out the 'reality'

    You have modelers,chemist and dynamic ppl all feeling supperior to each other. Its even as specific as UV/vis versus IR,microwave remote sensing experts.

    ....my view....

    example: imagine getting PHD in some new quantum field with heavy new math etc. and then meeting a guy in psychology telling you that he did PhD thesis on stress on workplace. (which is nothing more than corrolation study upon further enquiry). Dont you feel your knowledge is more "worth"/"hard"? :D If it is you understand the problem.
  5. Feb 9, 2007 #4
    It's also exactly, why riddles from the past never get solved, the reluctance to study the jigsaw puzzle pieces of an adjacent specialism and trying to fit those in in the big picture as well.

    That's simple laymen with some determination have a far better chance.
  6. Feb 9, 2007 #5


    User Avatar


    Some might say, you could exchange "geologists" for "pure mathematicians", and "geophysicists" for "applied mathematicians".

    Some might say that, but they'd be pretty close minded, imo.
  7. Feb 9, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Its a shame there's so little mixing between fields some of the time. A multidisciplinary approach to numerous problems would be very benificial.
  8. Feb 9, 2007 #7
    You know that whenever I go to one of those seminars where someone trys to tell us about something that is not their specialism they get toasted. Like the other week this guy was telling us about water wt% in the lower crust or something, and then he started talking about rock mechanics in front of a room full of rock physicists - he got toasted.
    They have to work together, but if they disagree about something and have different agendas then it will not be possible.

    I personally believe that it is the geologist's role to unify the earth scientists, this means they have to identify a key problem and bring together the evidence to try and solve them - I guess this already happens but then you get arguments between geologists!
  9. Feb 16, 2007 #8
    It happens. Even among the geologists. I'm a mathematical geologist, but have noticed some amusing things in the past few years while doing my PhD.

    The sedimentary/enviro geo's think they're saving the world.
    The economic geo's think they're holding up the economy.
    The structural geo's think they're earth's greatest historians.

    I find the whole thing amusing. But the tension is there between them all to fight over funding and such things. I guess the same applies in most disciplines.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook