Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Publish or Perish

Michael Behe’s book - Darwin’s Black Box is a valuable work for several reasons, not the least of which is his argument of irreducible complexity (IC) – an idea that is often scoffed at by many within the “scientific” community but has never been refuted via any empirical method.  Beyond IC itself, another valuable presentation in his book is given in his chapter entitled: Publish or Perish – which reveals the financial engine that drives much of what is called science today.  In this chapter Behe reveals what many of us already know – scientific objectivity is often flushed down the toilet of personal greed, ambition, and rank pragmatism.  In order for researchers to “stay afloat” financially, they must retain research grants which support their continued studies.  As long as there is a problem to solve, whether real or perceived, then there will be a perpetual flow of dollars supplied for their research.  But what happens when a perceived problem disappears?  Well, for honest researchers, the data will be exposed, and they will just go on to the next scientific frontier.  On the other hand, for those researchers who are not so honest, they may be tempted to invent certain “fudge factors” in their research in order to perpetuate the myth of their needed research, and with it, the myth of their needed grant money. 

As one who came out of a science background, and who spent a number of years writing computer code, I find the video below (original source) to be both alarming and strangely familiar: I am not surprised by what is presented here in view of the “publish or perish” culture, but I am alarmed that so much weight has been placed on such a flimsy pursuit of scientific analysis. 

A word of caution to the potential viewer, in code form:

begin;

If video_viewed = 0 then;

goto: cabinet;

procedure: taketwodramamine AND hit_play;

else;

procedudre: do_not_watch;

end;

{yup, my awful programming strikes again}