I Love Science, I Just Don’t Wanna Do It

Dee Richards
5 min readFeb 14, 2024

I’m in no way a scientist. I had to get help to pass Physics. But, I am a huge fan of science! What I am is a reader. In my penultimate quarter at UCI, I took a Literary Journalism class. The course was taught by Amy Wilentz, an expert on Haiti, and a very decorated journalist with work in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and so much more. Wilentz, despite being a fiercely dedicated journalist who is impressive, educated, and cares a lot, is also not a scientist. I’m not going to say I’m anywhere near her level, but I think she and I had a good rapport because she could also see my dedication and how much I care. The course was titled “Climate Change Literature,” and it was one of the single most intense courses I took while there. We read many wonderful books, such as: The Unhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells (based on his article of the same name with Intelligencer Magazine), The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and Oil on Water by Helon Habila. None of these people are scientists, they are all journalists and/or authors who know a lot.

How in the world can people who have no degree in science write about science-related matters, such as Climate Change? Their answer is the same as mine, most likely — they love science and highly respect those who do it. We research their research. And, in all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever met another career path than writing that casts such a wide net of research interests. Journalists are dedicated researchers. Authors worth their weight are, as well. During my schooling, I completed two research projects. I read a very comprehensive dictionary of Greek mythology published in the 19th century and over 2,000 pages, as well as probably about twenty other texts. As such, I am a low-level expert on the myth of the Minotaur. No, I don’t know about the social sciences of Greek culture or a lot about most Greek tales (my degree wasn’t in Classics), but I do know quite a bit about the Minotaur in classic and contemporary uses. I did all of that research so I could create an informed tale of the other victims of the Minotaur before Theseus. That is how I could write about something I did not have a degree in: I did my research.

The term “DO YOUR RESEARCH!” has been taken over negatively. Let me clarify: looking up unverified, non-science-based opinion articles is NOT NOT NOT research. I cannot stress that enough. This article is considered an opinion article. However, I have done some research on the topics I cover here. If you would like my work on things that I have done a lot of research on or have a degree in, I might suggest checking out my previous article, “A Lesson on Brevity.” I do have a degree in English composition and am qualified to speak on writing concisely. I did my research on English composition at an accredited university that is one of the nation’s top 10 public universities. I have received a degree in this. That is what I mean by “doing my research.” I did not watch 10 hours of YouTube videos from unpublished writers and now I’m an expert in writing — I learned from some of the top published authors and journalists in their fields. That is doing my research.

Doing correct research is a topic very extensively covered in my undergrad career, but I can summarize: check and verify sources. This can be tricky since reputable news sources can also publish opinion pieces that seem as though they are authoritative. Always check if the article is listed as “opinion,” and if you can’t figure that out, see if there is references. Look for “PhD” or similar qualifications in the topic being discussed from their quoted material. This can be very sticky because I’ve seen things titled (similar to) “Cardiologist Begs You to Try This Skin Product.” That is misleading. You think “ooh a doctor” but, really, a cardiologist is only marginally more qualified to talk about skin conditions than I am to talk about Ariadne. Of course, in my studies, I came across the myth of Ariadne, but I didn’t research Ariadne, I researched the Minotaur. A cardiologist knows a lot about your heart, and I would trust one to advise me on heart-related issues, however, I would not trust her advice on a nail fungus or a bladder infection. And I trust that most doctors would not advise outside of their sphere of expertise. However, if a cardiologist did a research study on the effects of a certain skin product’s off-label benefits on heart health, then you could use her research as a jumping-off point. Just as I hope you might do with this opinion essay (which is why I always leave hyperlinks to other articles and qualifications in most of my posts).

Wilentz guided me toward some of the most dedicated writers on the topics of Climate Change. As such, I’ve read the findings of people who have read the findings of scientists. That does not make me an expert in Climate Change, but it has changed how I interact with the world and made me more curious about Climate Change and my own impact on the world. Ever since I took that class, I can say that I have noticed how much waste my household was generating. It took time, but we have VASTLY reduced it within our own home. We went from overfilling a 13-gallon trash can every day down to an underfilled 11-gallon trash can every two days. Instead of throwing away our “disposable” plastics when eating at a restaurant, we bring them home and wash them, including forks, knives, and cups. I used to think doing so made us look poor but then I thought: “Wait a minute! Do I care most about how I look to a made-up Victorian social standard, or do I care more about our struggling planet?” I think the answer to this was clear. I am not a scientist and, frankly, I find science to be incredibly boring for me to do. But I LOVE that someone, many someones, love doing it. I research their research, and idolize their dedication to the subject. Their research inspired books, which inspired me to change.

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Dee Richards

Dee has a BA in English with honors from UC Irvine; 3 awards in CNF; 8 fiction and CNF pubs to date; writer for The Key Reporter Mag; getting a Masters in CNF.