Scientific discoveries are like orgasms: you can’t have any bad onesIn: blogarchives
During my flyfishing vacation last year, pretty much nothing was happening on this blog. Now that I’ve migrated the blog to WordPress, I can actually schedule posts to appear when in fact I’m not even at the computer. I’m using this functionality to re-blog a few posts from the archives during the month of august while I’m away. This post is from June 24, 2010:
What is it with non-scientists trying to go and save science from the scientists? First, there’s an English major at Scholarly Kitchen trying to tell us we should stick with a 400 year-old publishing system despite more modern systems being widely and readily available. Then the same blog sports a post wondering why their 400 year-old system they just touted doesn’t seem to operate as they imagine. So first these guys write a post to make sure every scientist who reads it understands that they have no clue and then they wonder why their clueless and hence baseless predictions don’t materialize? WTF? I have an answer for The Scholarly Kitchen: because what you imagine how science works has nothing to do with reality!
Then there is a completely weird article in The Chronicle of Higher Education on how we need to get rid of all ‘low-quality’ science. This piece, probably not unexpected by now, was written by English, management, mechanical engineering and geography professors. The lone medical researcher in the group does have a fair amount of PubMed articles, but none of them are in one of the supposedly high-quality journals mentioned in the article, so he basically just called himself ‘low-quality’ and thus should be struck from the public record, Moreover, the articles where he was single author or one of two authors are all on clinical practice and testing, raising the tentative suspicion that medical practice is really his strong area of expertise, rather than science. Which means that, again, none of these guys is actually a scientist, i.e., working in physics, chemistry, biology and regularly publishing scientific, experimental papers, which makes up the bulk of the scientific literature. If they were, they would know that there isn’t such a thing as a ‘low-quality’ scientific discovery. Scientific discoveries are like orgasms: you can’t have any bad ones. Now, I agree that there are badly conducted experiments, missing control procedures and outright fraud. None of these examples are eliminated by reducing scientific output, obviously. The authors make sure that this is not what they mean, as they refer to ‘low-quality’ science as journals or papers that aren’t cited. Obviously, hi-profile fraud cases are cited a lot. One reason for low citation counts is that very few scientists understand the topic and/or are interested in it. Clearly, this can change in a heartbeat and what was boring one day can be all the rage tomorrow. Only someone not steeped in scientific research would not be aware of that. Not surprisingly, this article has received a thorough smackdown in the comment section over there and in the blogosphere.
And then finally, to cap it all off, this completely inane post, riddled with factual errors, ludicrous assumptions and outright slander. The author characterizes himself as the person who trademarked the term “Science 2.0”. Moreover, in the comments, he gives it away: “I’m not a researcher” (as if that wasn’t already blatantly obvious from the post). I wonder why he’s even touching his keyboard such that it generates these nonsensical sentences? This post contains about as much valuable and accurate information as if a monkey had sat on the keyboard. By his own admission, he has about as much competence in this topic as a monkey’s rear end. This guy could probably just go and give it a shot trying out for the LA Lakers – at least he couldn’t be any less qualified than for his chosen topic.
I’m a biologist. Do I go to engineers and tell them how to build bridges? Do I try to play in the NBA? Do I tell BP to just put a lid on it? Sheesh, why are so many people trying to outcompete each other to exemplify the Dunning-Kruger effect these days? These guys are even more pathetic than Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy. What’s with this current slate of ignorant imbeciles trying to grandstand as if they had any relevant competence whatsoever and address an international group of hundreds of thousands of professionals with the actual expertise and experience? Where do these guys get the idea they have anything meaningful and worthwhile to contribute? What’s gotten into them? A different collusion of delusion?