The sun was shining today, the autumnal colours look wonderful, and, despite aching from my football comeback last night, during which I seemingly conspired to miss three chances and give away at least two goals, whilst feeling like I was running through quicksand, I’ve been of mood sufficiently good to spend a few hours hard at it in the Tissue Culture lab. I have to be, you see, sanguine-like, lest the realisation that the scientific approach has long since gone out the window: all those ‘hypotheses’ that have come to nought, wherein applying ‘X’ to these particular cells should dupe them into thinking they are still at home, and so likely to stick around and relax for a while longer than usual – bit like me on my new sofa.
I listened the other day to a feature on cryptozoology, which strikes me as, er, a bit of a grey area, scientifically speaking. It includes the search for the existence of creatures mythical, or so reclusive that anecdotal sightings have yet to be validated. A quick, by no means thorough, search on PubMed only brought up two items: on the mermaid and the Sasquatch!? An exponent of this discipline explained how, unlike most scientists, he doesn’t give a damn what other scientists think of him (his words). Fair play. But then, if peer review and independent verification are not in place to keep a check on things, then, well, scientists are bound to be sceptical (because that’s what scientists are).
However, cryptozoology also pays heed to actual known species considered extinct. Which strikes me as pretty worthwhile. Because how can we ever know for sure that a species has become (has gone) extinct? It might be pretty cut and dried for those things that would be hard to miss. But just because no-one occasionally claps eyes on certain creatures anymore doesn’t necessarily mean there absolutely isn’t one out there. The coelacanth was considered long gone, until a specimen popped up a few years back in a trawler’s net. The important distinction is that we have evidence that these did actually exist. Whereas some of the things cryptozoologists go after seem positively batty, distorting Popperian logic because, in the search for the unattested, we can’t rule out the possibility that advocatory evidence might be forthcoming (something like that).
But hey, they get to go off to exotic locations around the world looking for them. Apparently, funding isn’t an issue. So, who has the last laugh? Not me, quixotically up to my elbows in a cell culture hood, treading scientific quicksand, cursing minutes off my life, kidding myself I can still play football.