The pursuit of knowledge does not fit well into human institutions, the 9 – 5 regime, career plans, nor the profit motive. Cracks are everywhere. The message grows that science is being exploited and distorted.
Randy Schekman received his Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine yesterday. At the same time he has declared that his lab will not be sending papers to the top-tier journals Nature, Science and Cell because they are damaging science. He calls for more open access papers saying “science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals”
Randy Schekman in the Guardian
“I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession’s interests, let alone those of humanity and society.
Chiefly, he points out that the “luxury” journals manage themselves as brand-names, and choose papers for reasons other than their scientific advances. The journals seek [...]
The peer review system has decayed to the point where the culture of the two “top” science journals virtually guarantees they will reject the most important research done today. It is the exact opposite of what we need to further human knowledge the fastest. Science and Nature are prestigious journals, yet they are now so conservative about ideas that challenge dominant assumptions, that they reject ground-breaking papers because those papers challenge the dominant meme, not because the evidence or the reasoning is suspect or weak.
Watts Up drew my attention to an extraordinary paper showing that billions of dollars of medical research may have been wasted because researchers assumed mice were the same as men. Dr Ronald W. Davis from Stanford comments: ““They are so ingrained in trying to cure mice that they forget we are trying to cure humans.” He found that 150 drugs were tested that in hindsight, were guaranteed to fail in humans. People didn’t understand that mice have a very different response to sepsis (which is any overwhelming blood-borne bacterial infection). Sepsis kills around 200,000 people in the US each year and costs an estimated $17 billion a year. Mice are already resistant to huge numbers [...]
UPDATE: Dr Paul Bain has replied to say that pressing work commitments mean he cannot respond to this until next week. We look forward to that, and I will make sure it is available for readers here (should Dr Bain permit). – Jo
Dear Dr Paul Bain,
Thank you for replying (and so promptly). I do sincerely appreciate it. Apologies for my tardiness.
I do still think I can help you with your research. Indeed, in more ways than you realize.
You describe in your Bain et al letter in Nature, that the number of deniers is growing despite “enormous effort”. There is a policy problem. I absolutely agree. No one is having any success getting deniers to believe in anthropogenic climate change. Could it be that they don’t understand deniers at all?
Let’s go through the points in your email reply to me, then the bigger implications.
First and foremost – obviously you did not provide evidence to back up your assumption that the “existence” of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change is real. That doesn’t mean it does not exist, but I’ll get back to this. It is the key and only real point.
Secondly, you may regret the [...]
This week Nature Climate Change published the Bain et al letter about “climate change deniers”. How does Nature define this group? They imply that deniers deny science, but can the researchers, editors or reviewers name any peer reviewed paper with empirical evidence that the deniers deny? Surely this whole paper is not based on a name-calling assumption, a confusion about an illusory sub-species, Homo sapiens denier? Could Nature now be the Journal of UnScience? We shall see…
I have written to ask the lead researcher Dr Paul Bain:
Dear Dr Paul Bain,
Right now, it’s almost my life’s work to communicate the empirical evidence on anthropogenic climate change.
I can help you with your research on deniers. I have studied the mental condition of denial most carefully. There is a simple key to converting the convictions of people in this debate, and I have seen it work hundreds of times. Indeed, my own convictions that lasted 17 years were turned around in a few days. I can help you. It would be much simpler than you think.
Firstly, to save time and money we must analyze the leaders of the denial [...]