The journal Nature has an interview with Al Jean, executive producer of The Simpsons, specifically on the use of science and math as sources of humor in the show. (But we know the truth: The Simpsons movie is about to come out, and Nature is selling out. They even ask at the end what they can do to get a reference to their journal in an episode.*)
You can read the whole thing — they’ve made it publicly accessible — but I have to quote their stereotype of a scientist.
But we make fun of everything, so if a scientist appears on the show we make fun of them too. Generally our depiction of scientists is that they’re insular and have bad social lives, and say things in an obscure fashion that isn’t always comprehensible to the layman. From my limited experience in the scientific world I wouldn’t say it’s completely off the mark.
That last sentence is called “understatement,” I think. Sweet jebus, the description fits me perfectly! I feel like going home and hiding in the basement with a book full of acronyms from molecular biology now.
*Everyone knows the real pressing question is how to get a Pharyngula reference on the show. Come on, it’s almost as obscure as some of their math jokes!**
**Just not as funny, which is probably the major obstacle here.