It’s July and I’m cycling through autumnal weather, mulling over a column that would work with the title “Everyone is a scientist”. If you attribute a title to everyone it loses its meaning: “The NTR, unique to everyone”. And yet I’m delighted to finally be part of this; I’ve always wanted to belong to the scientific community, preferably without having to do the work for it. I’ve never once considered immersing myself for four years in the emotional abuse that in the Netherlands is known as a PhD. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t regret not belonging to the highest educated group of people in the Netherlands. Because I find it quite annoying when someone thinks they’re superior to me, and it’s even worse when someone thinks they’re smarter than me. But this PhD regret ends today, because now everyone is a scientist.
Inflation is the trend for 2023 and nowhere has inflation been so in evidence as in the title of scientist. A bit of erosion adds lustre to the ivory tower of Dutch science but too much washes thethe foundations on which it was built away. And, right now, the tower must remain standing. The difference between scientist and person-with-an-opinion must remain clear.
A scientific truth is above an opinion: the causes and effects of climate change are substantiated facts. And the facts were clear this summer: never before have forest fires burnt so fiercely, was there so little ice in the North Pole or were the oceans so warm. Within climate science there has for years been a broad consensus over the seriousness and cause of the problem. This seriousness only gets through to the masses if they see it for themselves.
As an alumnus of Utrecht University, clearly I form my opinion in a scientific way. But not now, now I’m riding my bike during the most autumnal July ever and I’m cold. And for a minute I listen to the small voice of the over-simplified opinion buried deep down inside me that whispers: “This summer is meant to be by far the hottest summer ever recorded worldwide, so why is it so ridiculously cold? And the only thing you can conclude from this that, in my case, the fact that I didn’t obtain the highest title you can obtain from a university is absolutely as it should be: I am no scientist.
Tim obtained his BSc in Life Sciences from University College Utrecht in 2013, followed by an MSc in Energy Science from Utrecht University. He won the Groninger Student Cabaret Festival in 2022.