The inspiration for this short story comes from a 2002 article “A Matter of Time” in the Christian Science Sentinel, which interviewed Dr. Laurance Doyle, Principal Investigator at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) as well as the Sokal “Hoax” Paper.
Once upon a time a scientist wanted to pinpoint the qualities in men that women would find most appealing when choosing a potential mate and husband. He wanted not only to identify these positive qualities but also to measure them so that they could be put into standardized units.
A female volunteer was hooked up to the latest, most sophisticated brain scanning device science had to offer. This advanced technology measured brain activity and displayed precisely where in the brain that activity was occurring with unequaled clarity and detail.
The experiment was ready to begin. The scientist asked the woman what hair color she wanted in a potential husband. Then he asked about other physical traits like height and weight.
The woman could not answer any of these questions and the computer screen showed very little change in her brain activity.
“Surely you can name some qualities that you like in a man?” asked the scientist.
“Yes. I want a man who has a positive attitude, is friendly, caring, faithful and has honesty,” responded the woman.
The scientist noticed increased mental activity on the screen from his female volunteer. “But those are not physical traits,” returned the scientist.
“But that is how I measure the true qualities of a man – in his character,” she returned.
“The only objective reality is that which we scientists can directly observe and measure – the realm of matter. The values you describe can never be measured and put into quantitative units. Therefore they play no part in true science,” he said.
The woman looked at the scientist and blurted out, “So, science cannot measure the most important things in the world?”