Most geeks by nature are curious about science. To be more precise, they are interested in the results of science. Tesla coils, quad processor boxes with 3GB of RAM, RAID arrays the size of washing machines, beowulf clusters, the public phone network, aerospace technology, and of course... cool hacks that you do yourself.
Geeks in general are facinated by science, but not just for science' sake, but rather what science can do for them. Owning a quad processor box would mean nothing if you couldn't do something with it. Geeks are more likely to go through the pain and suffering of learning higher math (I'm talking atleast calculus here) and slave away at their engineering degrees for one simple reason: we can build cool toys after.
So yes, interest in science runs high for geeks. But we're not the stereotypical white-labcoat-and-beakers kind of scientists. Our bread and butter consists of going down to home depot over the weekend and buying a whole lot of very wierd things, disassembling them, and building frankenstein in the garage... or assembling monster systems that will have joe average's mouth still dropping to the floor a year from now. Rather than dwell on silly papers, we roll up our sleeves and get down and dirty with hardware.
There are a few of us out here that stay under the radar. A few of us (well, okay, ALOT of us) had bad experiences with authority/school and people not understanding why we stay up at 3am building wierd contraptions in our basement, or toiling away on endless if-else statements. People are afraid of the voodoo magic that we use on a day to day basis, whether it be electronics, chemistry, physics, programming, computers, or a plethora of other fields.
We build some VERY cool stuff - you read about it all the time - kid genius builds laser tracking system. True story - high school girl (pretty sure it was a girl) laid out the groundwork for a laser guidance system - previously thought impossible to be used as a replacement for RADAR. Her high school teacher flunked her, but the DoD found out about it, and viola, today we have laser tracking systems on most all of our modern craft. It's common out here - there is a thriving network of amateur engineers and scientists out here... we just don't publish journals and papers. Instead, we hang out on web sites and listservs and exchange e-mail. Out of sight, out of mind... and more importantly: free to continue hacking.
Maybe that's also why some of us resent conventional academia - it's too slow, for one, and for two despite the proclaimed liberal nature of colleges, alot of them are close-minded. Some of the most bitter conflicts in science have revolved around somebody up-rooting a long-established idea and replacing it with something better. I don't want any part of that. Alot of my friends don't either. We prefer to build something, and let the community evaluate it... instead of a select group of professors or some committee. Science is about peer review, not who has the bigger dick or the most influence.
I have a better question out there for some of you - how many of you became disillusioned with science because your teacher wasn't interested in actually teaching you, but rather just filling your head with facts in high school? Or in college where a professor refused to be questioned in class, or wouldn't allow you to deviate from The Book(tm)?
Science is damned fun, it is damned interesting, and I wish those other self-proclaimed scientists would move out of the way and let us have some fun and maybe change the world while we're at it. If there was one thing I would attribute to the waning interest in science both by the general public and by intelligent folk like geeks, it would be the politics behind our scientific institutions.
Just my $0.02.
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.