Originally posted on TED Blog:
A new word for a new profession
Laura Snyder begins with a scene from June 24, 1833. It’s a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and an elderly man stands up to make a comment. It’s Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He stands up and demands, “You must stop calling yourselves Natural Philosophers.” He believed that true philosophers, like him, spent their time thinking about the Universe, not mucking around in pits and mud.
Anger filled the room, but William Whewell stood and agreed that an appropriate term did not exist, but that by analogy with artist, they could form the word “scientist.” This was only 179 years ago. “What,” asks Snyder, “had changed to make a new name necessary?”
Prior to this event, the people who studied science were talented amateurs. They were independently wealthy, or they funded themselves with other professions. After this moment, they were professionals
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