I really want to drive this point home, so here I present a more serious rejoinder:
Let us recall the case of an obscure Moravian monk who spent years growing peas and carefully recording stupid things like the precise color and shape of the flowers. He published his results in one of those scientific journals that will print anything, and his paper was promptly forgotten. After all, what possible scientific value can there be in worrying over the exact characteristics of peas? We don’t admire their flowers, we eat the peas! One might as well record the precise movement of pebbles in a brook.
It was only after his death that somebody else noticed his work and integrated it with Darwinian theory. Nowadays, Gregor Mendel is known as “The Father of Genetics”. But—and this is crucial—at the time he did his work, it seemed weird, pointless, and just plain silly. Nobody, not even the scientists of the day, recognized it as having any scientific merit. Yet it turned out to be momentous work of the first order.
My point is that nobody can dismiss any properly executed scientific work as silly or pointless. All properly executed scientific research has potential merit, and it is impossible to know in advance which experiments will change the world and which will be forgotten.
I definitely agree that some scientific research is weird—weirdness is fundamental to scientific progress. Einstein’s idea of riding on top of a photon was really weird, but it led to the theory of relativity. All sorts of great scientific advances (and a huge number of little advances) have been generated by somebody coming up with a weird idea. What Dead Monky calls “weirdness”, I call “scientific creativity”.
Recall the motto of the IgNoble Prizes, referring to stuff that makes you laugh and then makes you think. I did an undergraduate research project many years ago, which required me to build a special random number generator. That’s trivial with computers these days, but back then computers capable of doing what I needed cost exorbitant amounts of money. I cooked up a contraption that was really weird. When my advisor first saw it in operation, he burst out laughing—but he also thought it brilliant.
So yes, let’s laugh at the bizarre stuff that scientists do. It *is* bizarre, and often funny. I often laugh when reading the details of some scientific work—but I’m laughing at the creativity and ingenuity of the idea. I think, “What an amazingly devious way to accomplish that!” and I laugh.
But let’s not assume that bizarre implies stupid, pointless, or silly. Let’s not denigrate the work of scientists when we don’t even know the intellectual context in which the experiment is carried out. If Dead Monky would only dispense with the critical commentary, he’d have something to entertain us all. (I’m still looking for a good contribution. I shall redouble my efforts.)