Pride and Prejudice and Science

Like many people, I rather enjoy the literary works of Jane Austen. I find her writing on the topic of the society of her day very witty, with almost constant jokes throughout the books.

There are a number of quotes from her work that can be easily transformed to aptly describe situations in science, this is one. The original quote always reminded me of applying for jobs, and seeming to need to know everything at once. It could probably be used to describe many areas of science, other than just ecology :

CHAPTER  1

Narrator: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single scientist in possession of a phd, must be in want of a funding grant.”

CHAPTER 8

Caroline Bingley: “No one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman ecologist must have a thorough knowledge of taxonomy, GIS, statistics, grant writing, and the modern programming languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking around her fieldsites, the tone of her voice during her presentations, her address and expressions in the english language, or the word will be but half deserved.”

Mr. Darcy:“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading of the literature.”

Elizabeth Bennet:“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women scientists. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”

CHAPTER 11

Mr. Darcy “There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best mathematical education can overcome.”
Elizabeth Benett “And your defect is a propensity to hate the statistics.”
Mr. Darcy “And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is wilfully to misunderstand them.”

CHAPTER 34

Elizabeth Benett:“From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my reading your paper, your writing, impressing me with the fullest belief of your poor method, your bad statistics, and your selfish disdain of the hard work of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not had your paper to review for a month before I felt that it was the last paper in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to accept.”

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