Wednesday, March 09, 2005


The first science course I took in college was Geology. I hated chemistry... biology didn't do it for me... and I figured... geology was an excellent alternative. Little did I know...

The first day of class our professor walks into the room... takes role... then asks the class... "How old is the world?"

No one said anything.

"Ok.. let me ask it a different way. How many of you believe the world is 5000 years old?"

About 8 people in a class of 30 raise their hand.

"Ok... now how many of you believe the world is several million years old?"

Pretty much the rest of the class raised their hands.

The next 3 hours were spent making fun of the 8 folks who thought the world was 5000 years old. Complete with tales making fun of christians and other "ignorant people". When we left class that night I knew most of those 8 kids wouldn't be there next week. They'd drop the class. And why shouldn't they?

It was sickening to see how impressionable those kids were. They walked out repeating the same lines the professor had used. It was as bad an example of a cult of personality as I had ever seen.

The next week... a few principled christians lighter... the professor began by explaining the "Unitarian Assumption". Words I'll never forget. "Geology is based on the assumption that processes that can be observed at work, have always been at work."

He asked us to write that down.

So ended my respect for the "science" of geology. I was interested though. So much so that I was kicking around the idea of dropping music ed. for geology. For the most part the semester went very very well. I kept an A average for the class... which for me, at the time, was astounding.

I didn't finish with an A though... far from it. See... about 4 weeks till the final exam, the "age of the earth" discussion came up again. This time it was more heated. A couple of the kids had brought some ammo of their own, and were taking shots at the professors anecdotes. The Cult didn't take it well, and neither did the cult leader.

I had remained silent throughout... which in and of itself was strange enough to raise a few eyebrows. Normally I was more than willing to shoot someone down, or ask a tricky question. But not that night. That was a fight I was gonna stay out of. I just didn't see how anything good could come of it.

So... for once... I had decided... and wisely I might add... to keep my big mouth shut.

Unfortunately... my reputation wouldn't allow for such a thing. With about 15 minutes to go in the class... and with debate reaching a fever pitch... The professor decided to call me out. Why shouldn't he? He knew I was a cocky little prick. He knew I generally considered myself to be the brightest kid in the class... and at least once, he'd alluded to the fact himself. So... he went looking for someone to throw a haymaker.... for someone who'd say something more pointed than he felt like he could. He looked over... and saw me sittin' there quietly. No doubt he figured I was layin' for someone.

"What do you make of all this Mr Cherolis?"

"Me? Well... What was it you said? Processes that can be observed at work, have always been at work? That's sounds pretty good. Except... I'm looking through the scientific method here... and I don't see the word 'assume' anywhere."


"Scientists don't make assumptions sir, and sciences are not based on them."

And that's how my flirtation with Geology ended. I got a D for the semester, barely passing. The lab techs and the professor made it clear that I was persona non grata, only to be passed if absolutely necessary. Any assignment that offered the slightest room for subjectivity resulted in a very low grade for me. By the end, I simply stop doing the work. I got every answer on the multiple choice final correct, got 100% on the lab final, which consisted of identifing 24 different substances... but I failed the essay portion completely... as was the norm those last few weeks.

Lookin' back... that's where college lost its shine for me.

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