The Royal Society are a Bunch of Sophisticated Scientists that Write for Other Sophisticated Scientists

If it weren’t for the Royal Society, there wouldn’t be science. And if it wasn’t for Thomas Sprat, there wouldn’t be science writing styles. As discussed in the lecture notes about Sprat’s distrust of figurative language: reason or logic must be backed up by scientific evidence. Does that sound familiar? Yes. It sounds like any other scientific research paper that has ever been published. Sprat may be the reason why there are many writing styles for many different disciplines in the sciences. For example: we have APA for Psychology and Biology, AAA for Anthropology, ACS for Chemistry, the list goes on. But the end goal is the same: create a thesis/theory that can be falsifiable, prove or disprove your theory with scientific research results, and further discuss how your theory can be researched in the future. Now get this, all of the Royal Society members that have made scientific breakthroughs like Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick & James Watson, Albert Einstein, etc., have all published works that use these specific writing style formats. This shows how Sprat’s idea of just keeping it simple and direct has made progress in the world of science. Instead of wasting time with stories and meaningless jargon, scientific research should just be direct.

“They [figurative language] were at first, no doubt, an admirable instrument in the hands of wise men…but now they are generally changed to worse uses…” (Sprat, p. 2176). Sprat is stating that figurative language has no place in science. This type of speech was once great when spoken by philosophers (Plato) of the past and whatnot, but it adds little to nothing when it comes to the world of science. He goes on to say “…nothing may be sooner obtained than this vicious abundance of Phrase, this trick of Metaphors, this volubility of Tongue…” (Sprat, p. 2176). This suggests that nothing comes from all of this storytelling, uses of metaphors, and filler when it comes to science. Instead, it should have concrete evidence that directly leads to a solution to the problem that is being discussed. The world that we live in is currently changing, and so is language. Language has now integrated with science and has become a way for people to discuss concerning questions of the world. Publishers of scientific journals write for a specific audience, an audience that doesn’t require the use of metaphors or storytelling to understand the language being used. But this wouldn’t be the case if it was a lay audience. Sprat and the Royal Society have become the reason why the stereotype of science is too difficult of a topic to understand. It has become so direct that people from different disciplines cannot relate to it. 

Ronald Hoffman, an American physician/theoretical chemist, stated “I choose to write about science for people who do not share my academic background. Metaphor, teaching, storytelling were set loose within me because I was adressing a general audience…This approach proved to be at once more natural and more than one comprised soley of facts…” (Hoffman, p. 407). Sure, science has become a field where facts rule all. Ronald Hoffman is suggesting that talking science through the use of metaphors and storytelling helps the audience. But how does storytelling and metaphor help people understand? People in general can relate more to a story than facts with unrecognizable vocabulary. And when it comes to evolution, people have a knack for storytelling. Maybe science has become more direct, but has figurative language really lost its way from “wise men”? Certainly not. Sprat must be rolling in his grave because Hoffman seems to be doing a great job explaining scientific research using figurative language. Hoffman is not only making science easier for people to understand, but he is also making science relatable again.
In addition to everything, the goal of the Royal Society was to teach the rest of society their knowledge. Theoretically, this knowledge would improve the society as a whole. But is that really the case in today’s world? Colleges have these databases which have a plethora of science journals and whatnot but that only applies to college students only. But who funds these studies? The taxpayers. But do the taxpayers have access to these databases? Not really, unless they’re willing to pay in order to obtain access. So really, the Royal Society only writes for other scientists and not for the general public. All in all, the Royal Society has made science a really exclusive thing. But it has accomplished many things since its inception. First of all, science is now only about nature without the interference of religion. No longer is the Royal Society filled with people that believed in God, but instead, believe in the power of nature.
– Christopher Luong

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