Dude! You’re not a scientist. OK, what is a scientist? By Mary Anne Pankhurst

image01CFN – Jacques Cousteau wasn’t at the Cornwall Public Library last night but his presence was felt in more ways than one.


The thread began when the River Institute’s guest speaker, John Earle, dove into his topic of “Water is Life” with the smile-producing statement (about himself):  Dude! You’re not a scientist.  And technically, he isn’t.


John is a locally born and self-described Dad, videographer, entrepreneur, diver, photographer, explorer, experimenter and curious man.   So was Cousteau.


But to bring the water-is-life theme to our own curious forebrains, John cast out several bits of visual bait and jigged it.  For example:  Are there sharks in the St. Lawrence?  Answer: Two kinds: Blue and Greenland sharks.


The St. Lawrence is also the 13th largest river in the world and drains 25 percent of the earth’s freshwater.  And John’s message?  “We mustn’t take this precious gem nor its treasures for granted.”  And to amplify the message, John shared a number of images he shot in drought-plagued Kenya, a trip he describes as life changing.



But back to the matter of science and scientists.


Lots of stereotypes are unfairly associated with them, and run the gamut from mad to maniacal and nerdy to natty – perhaps no thanks to pop culture’s Big Bang Theory.


In fact, “scientists” (both the scholarly and naïve) share common orientations, from being curious and creative to determined, skilled and unfazed by failure.


John finds inspiration and meaning in one of Jacques Cousteau’s famous quotes:


“What is a scientist? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what’s going on.”


So Dude.  Thank you.  Water most certainly is life, and we can’t take our beautiful St. Lawrence for granted.



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