• http://www.sufficientscruples.com Kevin T. Keith

    Very good points. The dreary red-baiting tactics of scary labels as an assault on decency or just plain good thinking are a plague, and hardly confined to science.

    But a couple of substantive reactions as well:

    "Change the world" is not necessarily the best advice. It's a great thing to do if you can, but remember that the vast majority of scholarship is not world-changing. Someone has to fill in the details. Read any science journal: vast volumes of small-scale fact-grubbing that explain how things work but do not dramatically support or disprove a theory. That's important work.

    "Be creative" is also good, but replication is the heart of proof, as all scientists acknowledge – and too many granting institutions won't support it, journals won't publish it, some labs won't even allow it. Replicating known results, and extending them into new labs or new technologies, is also important work.

    "Have no job" is a luxury that only the rich, or the exceedingly lucky, can afford. "Independent scholar" means "unemployed". "Collaborative multitasking" is not a realistic option for many or most. A lot of the "new economy" slogans are just romanticizing; strong support for science, including well-endowed labs and secure jobs with good salaries and benefits, is a better goal for science, scientists, and society. (Applies to other scholarly fields as well.)

    And finally a tiny plug for capitalism: "give everything away" and "have no secrets" ought to be the norm in human-needs fields like medicine, energy, etc.; but there's room for market-oriented research (not publicly funded) as well. It does have strengths that can be utilized if it is not allowed to trample human values, lives, and necessities.

  • Paweł Szczęsny

    Kevin, thanks. Indeed, some of the points could be phrased better or completely replaced (I agree with all that you've wrote), but I wanted to change the original as little as possible for the purpose of the experiment.

    Actually, in science anything written in stone is a bad idea anyway.

  • Claudia Koltzenburg

    > ?Independent scholar? means ?unemployed?.

    this depends on the field and country you're looking at, I guess. There are quite a few independent scholars who are doing their research, yes, independently, i.e. they are not paid for doing their research (and precisely for the sake of independence they may well have decided to not accept any payment for it before publication), yet independent researchers may well be employed – like myself, in fact