How do you define a scientist?

If your definition includes a scientific institution, then the late Philip Elliott was not a scientist.

Philip Elliott had a PhD and had worked at a call centre. He jumped from a flat where he lived and the only explanation of his suicide is his  frustration with his work. Despair, more likely.

The coroner said:

It is clear he was a high academic achiever in science, having achieved a PhD from the University of Reading [UK], but he had not been able to get a [suitable] job for some time.  He took work which was perhaps not entirely suited to his skill sets…

I just love the British evasion style “perhaps not entirely suited” instead of “he had to take a crappy, high stress job and was unable to find a better one  while the government declares a deficit in physicists, but the funding for them is approaching zero”.

The police did not even try to talk him down as  “it would have been dangerous to them (how?!) and to him”.  And because of the  stigma associated with suicide Dr.Eliot is even denied the intentions clarity: accodring to the coroner, his climbing on scaffolding and jumping down tens of meters “could have been a ‘cry for help”.

I did not know Dr. Elliot, but I think I understand him, if not accept that what he did is a correct way out of a mismatch between his inner scientist and his existence. RIP.

One thought on “How do you define a scientist?

  1. RIP Phil Elliot.

    ‘How do you define a Scientist?’ We all at one time took a step out of the ordinary, and dedicated a time of our lives to the exploration of the natural world.

    “We all”; “one time” = Many and expendable.

    Time for a new question: How do you define yourself?


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