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What is a Bestie you ask? Only the term coined herein in honor of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, Ph.D. brilliantly played by real-life neurobiologist and former child star Mayim Hoya Bialik on CBS's The Big Bang Theory. In the series, socially awkward Dr Fowler finds herself bursting with barely concealed excitement at being the best friend, or Bestie, of fellow cast member Kaley Cuoco, who plays a waitress blessed with loads of common sense and a great smile. Thru brilliant writing, brilliant direction and casting, brilliant acting, and by being a stickler for background scientific accuracy, a series based on the risky premise of portraying men and women of cutting edge science as lovable, delightfully flawed humans beings has become a smash hit, and in the process one of science's best friends, on network TV today. With that in mind, here's a few real-life science Besties for 2013:

  • A Bestie to the National Center for Science Education for their David vs Goliath battle wherein the Center, long the defender of K-12 education in the field of evolutionary biology, has taken on the powerful fossil fuel industry. Including the many well-heeled carbon rich tentacles stretching from think-tanks to K-street.
  • Honorable mention goes to the scientist-bloggers at Real Climate.
  • A Bestie in space exploration to the Commercial Spaceflight Federation for taking on DoD leviathans like Boeing, Lockheed, and many other contractors happy to milk the lucrative, cost-plus taxpayer teat for badly needed spacebucks until it goes dry, even while worthy manned and unmanned programs languish.
  • Honorable mention to Astronomy Picture of the Day, bringing us the best the cosmos has to offer free of charge or annoying paywalls.
  • And last but certainly not least, a local Bestie goes to the Texas Freedom Network, fighting for the integrity of science ed in the deepest, darkest, Lone Star red-state on the electoral map, for taking on everyone from the Koch Brothers and Rick Perry, with a tiny staff working on a shoestring budget.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.


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Comment Preferences

  •  I cannot watch Big Bang Theory (12+ / 0-)

    the laugh track drives me bananas to the point that I can't determine whether I find it witty or not.

    •  Glad to know that I'm not the only one. (7+ / 0-)

      I first noticed the laugh track one evening when I was in the kitchen, with the TV in the next room. I couldn't hear the dialog, but the incessant laugh track came through loud and clear.

      After that, I began paying attention to the laugh track, and it it runs when things are said that are not even remotely funny.

      'Tis a shame, because I cut the cable 2 years ago, and can only pick up two local channels with my antenna. Big Bang Theory is one of the few shows I even cared to watch.

      The good news: some of that time that I once spent in front of the teevee is now spent perusing Daily Kos.

    •  can't handle laugh tracks, can't understand BBT (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frankenoid, tekno2600

      Laugh tracks suck all the humor out of a show, IMO.

      And Big Bang Theory? As a science geek, I find it repulsive. I went to Berkeley, which should have had hundreds of such folks roaming the campus. I only remember ONE -- and he was weird primarily because he had adopted the persona of Hawkeye Pierce, and rarely dropped out of character.

      The rest of us were just regular guys and gals. Yeah, I know, not exactly the stuff of comedy . . . but I don't think BBT's stereotypes are at all humorous. To me, the typical BBT joke is as funny as any other racial/ethnic/religious stereotype. Not.

      You can never go home again, but I guess you can shop there.

      by Hobbitfoot on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:24:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's how dumb people think smart people sound. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's always been my view of the show. That may sound a little harsh. I admit it can occasionally get a laugh or two out of me, usually when I'm at someone else's house and it happens to come on. But, I really can make myself watch it on my own. Overall, I think the show is one giant stereotype reinforcer of the worst myths and images regarding scientists and intellectuals.  

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 03:51:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice try,...but (5+ / 0-)

    While I agree that there is a lot of real science on BBT, and while I couldn't agree more that the show is brilliantly written, cast, directed and acted, the science is ultimately peripheral to the success of the show.  These characters could just as easily be artists or inventors, or any number of other occupations, and they'd still be funny.

    The show is about making fun of nerds.  Without that it's really not funny, and it's probably not on TV.  They're nice, sympathetic nerds, but they're still nerds, and the joke is more often than not, on them.  And,...for the most part, they don't become semi-cool and win-in-the-end, like the nerds of "Revenge of the Nerds".

    That's why the show is funny.  Real scientists are really pretty boring.  Real science is really pretty boring.  If the characters weren't so over the top nerdy (come on, when was the last time you saw someone dressed like Wolowitz, and how long could someone as condescending and naively cruel as Sheldon really survive in even scientistic society?), the show would have been canceled long ago.

    That said, I love it.  It's my favorite show, and the only thing on TV other than sports that I make a point to watch.  But, then again, I loved "Cheers" and "Seinfeld", two other shows where all the funny was the characters making fun of each other.  

  •  Love science! (6+ / 0-)

    Without science and scientists life would be so boring!  

  •  personally, I'm indifferent to the show, unlike (6+ / 0-)

    many of my science colleagues, who mostly LOVE it.

    OTOH, giving Besties is a great idea and one deserving wide recognition.

    Anything at all we can do to promote fact over superstition and to courageously face reality rather than nose-dive into fantasy is desperately needed. Kudos to all the Davids fighting Goliaths, even - perhaps especially - at the local level of school boards and classrooms.

    Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

    by p gorden lippy on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:46:53 AM PST

  •  Kudos to Texas Freedom Network & NCSE! (8+ / 0-)

    Thanks to their organizing, Texans turned out to stand up for science. Publishers refused to water textbooks down with creationist nonsense, and all of the textbooks were adopted as written, a clear win for science.

    And who knew testifying at textbook hearings would be so entertaining? Conservative SBOE member Marty Rowley argued with me that high school biology textbook reviewers should be a "cross section" of the public including plumbers, carpenters, etc.

    Then there was former SBOE chair Don McLeroy's bizarre testimony- that the books were so bad that the SBOE should adopt them because students would say the evidence for evolution was "weak, weak!".

    Good times.

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:49:30 AM PST

  •  The diarist lost me at... (6+ / 0-)

    ..."brilliant writing".

    Every time I try to watch it, I'm struck by how a show about smart people can be so dumb.

    Coming from creator Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

  •  TBBT saved my life (9+ / 0-)

    Okay, that may be a touch hyperbolic, but until I found that show, I was stuck wondering why I'm the way I am and why some people loathe me yet others are fiercely loyal.

    I still don't understand the mechanism, but I now understand me. I am Sheldon. No, I don't have any advanced degrees, nor any degrees, for that matter. No, I don't have his eidetic memory, but I have a freakishly good one. And no, I don't organiize my cereal by figer content, although I have other OCD quirks. However, my bride (long suffering—43 years) and I routinely find a dozen or more congruences between me and things Sheldon says or does in every episode.

    As to commenters, yes, I agree the writing is superb. Yes, the laugh track is the height of irony—a show that would interest smart people does not, almost by definition, need a laugh track to cue audience response.

    I've mined many lines from the series but my all time favorite, which bride is sick of hearing is, (after a warning to "be careful") "if I wasn't being careful, you telling me to be careful, wouldn't make me be careful."

    I have every season on DVD (as well as Seinfeld, Scrubs, Corner Gas—Canadian brilliance—and a Britcom, Coupling—all examples of exemplary writing) and I enjoy referring back to them periodically.

    I'm sorry for those who mightnn't like it, but it's been life comfort for me.

    LRod—UID 238035
    ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired
    My ATC site
    My Norm's Tools site

    by exatc on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 07:08:52 AM PST

    •  layman's opinion following: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but I am convinced that Sheldon has Aspergers Syndrome - a form of high-functioning autism. My son has Aspergers and exhibits many of the characteristics that Sheldon exhibits: social awkwardness, narrow interests, poor communication skills (monopolizing conversations on his own topics of interest, for example), an inability to empathize, not recognizing social cues, difficulty understanding his own or other people's feelings. And like many people with Aspergers, he also has a very high IQ. It's one of the many reasons we love the show - there aren't many(any?) characters like Sheldon on tv that aren't also portrayed as being psychopaths or sociopaths. I'd like to see the show's story line going on to diagnose Sheldon - and then also tone down that laugh track.

      Your teachers' union - the first, and often, only line of defense for your children's education

      by FeldMP on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 08:15:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, Asperger's… (0+ / 0-)

        is the word thrown around in my family. I've looked it up, and while your list is a pretty good match for me, there have been other characteristics I've seen that are nowhere close.

        Is it possible to have partial Asperger's (he asked rhetorically)? Or am I just an asshole (also rhetorical—no hypothesizing, please)?

        And, really—where can we go to mount a protest on the laugh track?

        LRod—UID 238035
        ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired
        My ATC site
        My Norm's Tools site

        by exatc on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 09:41:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not called the Autism SPECTRUM for nothing! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And where a person falls on the spectrum ... also, very often autism is accompanied by other conditions - I think they're called co-morbid - such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, etc. So, it's possible that you could have "partial Aspergers"! All I know is that once you get to know my son, you start to see past the symptoms and see a sweet kid, with a great (albeit quirky) sense of humor, and a big heart. Although,I wouldn't wish him on a future daughter-in-law!. No offense intended...

          Your teachers' union - the first, and often, only line of defense for your children's education

          by FeldMP on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 10:00:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ira Flatow on NPR replayed Science Friday, (7+ / 0-)

    interview oldies yesterday.
    Carl Sagan, May 1996 ‘Science Is a Way of Thinking’
    Oliver Sacks and Temple Grandin

    Excellent show.  I miss Carl Sagan.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 07:21:34 AM PST

  •  Any effort to raise public awareness (8+ / 0-)

    of science deserves a bestie;

    example: The American Physical Society (APS) has a "Historic Sites Initiative' whereby each year a place is recognized for important events having occurred at that site;

    see 2013's APS designee

    Thank you for the besties diary.

    We've reached the point where we're unfazed by things that should shake us to the core. –Bill McKibben (Volva Award recipient)

    by ume on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 07:34:04 AM PST

  •  Being a science nerd myself I find it .... (8+ / 0-)

    quite fascinating, thank you.

    I am never bored if there is a park or even a abandoned city lot nearby, and if I am in the countryside or better yet a forest, desert, or beach, I am in heaven.

    Being a science nerd saved my sanity when I was a kid.  It was the only area that my parents could not understand and muck around in. It was my private world.  Luckily for a while I had a friend who liked chemistry and we spent hours doing chemistry experiments.  He went on to become a high school chemistry and physics teacher and I went on to become a university biologist.

    I fail to see why knowing how to pronounce Latin names or understanding how to balance chemical equations, are worse obsessions than knowing all the stats of football players or the details of the lives of the stars of a TV. show.

    That said, I found the clip of "The Big Bang Theory" to be hilarious.  We nerds can poke fun at ourselves (or at least most of us can.)  In reality all human activity has its ridiculous side, not just science. If we can't laugh at ourselves we are pretty sad. Archie Carr, one of my mentors at the University of Florida, once wrote the "Carr Key to the Fishes of Alachua County," a very funny parody of scientific keys.

  •  Love the show (4+ / 0-)

    One of the few programs I'll turn on the TV-machine for.

    Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

    by ask on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 08:02:18 AM PST

  •  Stereotypical characters usually turn me off (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood

    Yes. It IS funny. Yes. It IS well-done, witty and scientifically accurate. Check, check.

    But incredibly intelligent science-oriented Americans portrayed as 'socially awkward' reminds me too much of my daughter with autism. Except she's a cheerleader trying fit in with the cool kids instead of pouring chemicals into a Bunsen burner...and she DID get an A in algebra.

    Glad you like the show. But it gives me a set of mixed feelings that way.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:01:56 AM PST

  •  Love the writing (0+ / 0-)

    and the actors' performances, hate the laugh track but have learned to ignore it.
    P.S.  Using "teevee" instead of TV doesn't make you sound witty or superior, it makes you sound like someone who is trying too hard to sound witty and superior.

  •  Funny how almost all of the comments focus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on the TV show. (And now mine, too: sorry.) Well, it's a common culture thing and thus a lightning rod for all sentient beings, but really, when I could afford cable, I found the best TV shows about science on the Science Channel, Discovery Channel and so on. No contest. Big Bang Theory would be annoying even without the laugh track, but that really seals it for me. Show scientists as stereotypes hopelessly unconnected to real life, and it's even easier to ridicule climate science or evolution or whatever -- the moon landing -- as the silly preoccupations of marginalized personalities. We Americans love to make fun of people smarter than we are, and yet we couldn't survive without our iPods and cars and antibiotics, and may not survive climate change. But, oh well.

    Mine, yours, mine, yours, mine... What a country! And not a penny for "ours."

    by Mike732 on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 09:41:25 AM PST

  •  ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just FYI, BBT did not coin the term bestie.  It's been in use for years before it was ever said on the shoe.

  •  You do realize that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    susans, spyresca

    Mayim Hoya Bialik is an anti-vaccer, and has chosen to not vaccine her children?

    It's concerning to me she is given this image of making rational choices but in reality she is putting her children's life in jeopardy, as well as other people with compromised immune.

    As far as I'm concerned you can be a Nobel prize winner, but if you don't vaccinate your children, your a flake.

  •  Wow (0+ / 0-)
    Thru brilliant writing, brilliant direction and casting, brilliant acting, and by being a stickler for background scientific accuracy, a series based on the risky premise of portraying men and women of cutting edge science as lovable, delightfully flawed humans beings has become a smash hit,
    That's a pretty unique way to phrase the formula of a TV show that's basically "nerd blackface".

    I'm from the Fucking Retard wing of the the Democratic Party.

    by Boogalord on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 11:20:08 AM PST

    •  I think the show started off well, (0+ / 0-)

      but after a few seasons lapsed into formula situation comedy with too many jokes aimed at women and men who act like women, who might, oh horrors, be gay. We sort of fell out of love with it once all the guys paired up and the focus drifted from a group of people who lived science to just another group of people in an apartment building who meet at the same coffee house, bar, or cheese cake factory.

  •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for turning me on to the Astronomy Picture of the Day.  There is a corresponding site from NASA which posts another "Image of the Day" looking down:

    Eighteen claws, three-and-a-half fangs, and a puma's purr.

    by FranklinCat on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:38:51 PM PST

  •  well, now I'm all confused again, 8-) (0+ / 0-)

    for whatever reason, we decided not to try this when it started, and are now, obviously, YEARS behind! I think occasionally of trying it, but would want to wait for a syndication re-boot, so we could watch from the start... but, esp if it has gone downhill into standard sitcom territory, maybe I'm back to "not" interested!

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 06:28:31 PM PST

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