This is a great piece by Dr. Kathy Kitts for National Novel Writing Month that discusses some of my issues on the divide between scientists and artists, namely fiction writers.
We’ve all seen the posters that list nifty inventions that first appeared in science fiction and later in our pockets. Scientists and engineers readily admit they take inspiration from the stories they’d read. Yet there is another very important contribution that story makes to science that we don’t talk about. Often, story communicates science concepts better than science itself does.
It’s not that scientists don’t know how to write (or can’t be taught), but rather a strong cultural bias exists against employing the tools of story in science. Somehow by using metaphor, we contaminate the data, dilute the message and undercut our credibility…
This bias is so pervasive many of my colleagues use pseudonyms for fear that writing fiction may reflect badly on their grant submissions. (If they make up stuff for stories, they might make up stuff in studies.)