Saturday, September 26, 2009

Science In Turmoil



Jeremy Dunning-Davies: Science in Turmoil - Are we Funding Fraud?

There can be little doubt in the minds of those who are involved in attempting to disseminate research results among the entire scientific community that major problems exist. It is well documented that adopting certain stances will result in an inability to publish in the majority of the so-called high impact academic journals.

There are also well documented cases of people experiencing grave difficulties in their place of work and even, on some occasions, being driven out. Amazingly, there are even cases of attempts being made – some successful – to deny research students their doctorates because their theses contain material which may cause embarrassment for some person with an inflated sense of his/her own importance. Again, more and more academics, certainly in British universities, are coming under increasing pressure to draw funds into their establishments. Note the emphasis is not on good research, or even just research, but rather on attracting more and more money.

Obviously, to achieve this, the person concerned must not give those in authority any reason to dismiss their grant applications out of hand. Hence, they must be careful to offend no-one or, in other words, they must conform. The result is that many carry out straight forward work which is easily published in reputable journals and attracts funding without problem. However, such work is often more development than true research and often does little to advance knowledge.

These mediocre individuals play the game to their own advantage though and are regularly being promoted to positions their academic ability and achievement doesn’t warrant. In due course, such people rise to positions of increasing power and authority and the status quo is strengthened further. Conventional wisdom triumphs and the innovative thinker is condemned to work and think alone under the burden of an ever-increasing teaching load.

Remember though that as one university official told an academic member of staff, “I don’t pay you to think”! With this attitude, what hope is there unless people read books such as Against the Tide and learn from them?

3 comments:

Fungus FitzJuggler III said...

I see no enthusiasm for this from our herd friends.
herd mentality is so commonplace that it is normal in their universe?
Slaves that know their place! Good slaves! We will let you know what to think .....

OilIsMastery said...

Fungus,

I also noticed this lack of enthusiasm. Good observation.

Jeffery Keown said...

I'd invite you folks to name a single human enterprise more fruitful than the sciences of the past 600 years.

Then I'd ask you to name a single human enterprise untouched by human emotion.

There aren't any. To ask any undertaking to be perfect is absurd.

It has taken humanity from the ignorance of the theological-dominated middle ages to the edge of the universe. It has brought about advancement unprecedented in the history of our species. Along the way, it has stumbled at times, and it has often raced ahead blindly, but it has never succumbed to fundamentalism or dogma.

Witness the prejudice on this blog toward mainstream science. The hate literally rolls off the monitor some days. You lot have made up your mind that every scientist behaves this way, that they all propagate myths and hold humanity in bondage to the darkness of ignorance while they know better and hide the truth from the masses.

They aren't cursing the dark, they are lighting the candle.