22 thoughts on “Oh, how we (ill-)treat Science!

  1. Shefaly,
    i think its Sir Martin Evans (not Lasker).
    Its really very unfortunate that science now has come to this. One reason for this may be that scientists today are so focussed in their own projects that there is a genuine lack of interest in whats happening outside their realm. Gone are the days when people would attend talks just for the sake of feeding their curiosity.
    The other reason is that now a days scientists often blindly follow,whatever is HOT,like stem cell research is the most sought after now and also has the most allotment of research grants. Therefore there is a huge population of stem cell biologists now who are competing with each other to come up with the next BIG discovery.So in a race to outdo each other, they are not finding time to hear out other researchers.Pathetic really. I guess Sir Martin Evans wont have this problem any more since you pointed out rightly he is a CELEBRITY now.

  2. Shefaly,
    i think its Sir Martin Evans (not Lasker).
    Its really very unfortunate that science now has come to this. One reason for this may be that scientists today are so focussed in their own projects that there is a genuine lack of interest in whats happening outside their realm. Gone are the days when people would attend talks just for the sake of feeding their curiosity.
    The other reason is that now a days scientists often blindly follow,whatever is HOT,like stem cell research is the most sought after now and also has the most allotment of research grants. Therefore there is a huge population of stem cell biologists now who are competing with each other to come up with the next BIG discovery.So in a race to outdo each other, they are not finding time to hear out other researchers.Pathetic really. I guess Sir Martin Evans wont have this problem any more since you pointed out rightly he is a CELEBRITY now.

  3. Madhuri: Thanks for pointing out the error. I have corrected it. I guess I was processing “Evans got Lasker” at the same time in some corner of my brain as I typed. πŸ™

    It is interesting and a pathetic reflection on society how those people, who were ahead of their time in their ideas, often need this sort of external validation to be noticed. Considering the money just the licensing of the transgenic mouse has made for people, he should have been a celebrated scientist long ago.

    I understand Cardiff is not like London to many people. But I also think some of the reasons why such talks do not get audiences are:

    Poor publicity in terms of reach (I do not think the research councils do a good job!)

    Poor publicity in terms of content (I do not know how they promoted this talk but normally many disciplines are not keen on engaging people from outside at all)

    Incestuous thinking in academia (which comes from my last point; most people see talks as a networking rather than a learning opportunity. As a result disciplines never engage with one another until there is a monetary incentive attached to it. Last year, a joint NIH/ NSF conference in DC brought engineers in touch with obesity researchers and what a cracking 2-day workshop it was! Aren’t people thrilled by the possibilities of what they may not know? I suppose not!)

    Lack of basic curiosity in the audience (I normally check the speaker’s background and will go to great lengths to attend talks by people who have done great work even if I did not know about them. I think most people do not go beyond cursory review of the ‘today’s science celebrity’ pages wherever those may appear…)

    I could go on and on; but I must write some more today.

    Thanks.

  4. Madhuri: Thanks for pointing out the error. I have corrected it. I guess I was processing “Evans got Lasker” at the same time in some corner of my brain as I typed. πŸ™

    It is interesting and a pathetic reflection on society how those people, who were ahead of their time in their ideas, often need this sort of external validation to be noticed. Considering the money just the licensing of the transgenic mouse has made for people, he should have been a celebrated scientist long ago.

    I understand Cardiff is not like London to many people. But I also think some of the reasons why such talks do not get audiences are:

    Poor publicity in terms of reach (I do not think the research councils do a good job!)

    Poor publicity in terms of content (I do not know how they promoted this talk but normally many disciplines are not keen on engaging people from outside at all)

    Incestuous thinking in academia (which comes from my last point; most people see talks as a networking rather than a learning opportunity. As a result disciplines never engage with one another until there is a monetary incentive attached to it. Last year, a joint NIH/ NSF conference in DC brought engineers in touch with obesity researchers and what a cracking 2-day workshop it was! Aren’t people thrilled by the possibilities of what they may not know? I suppose not!)

    Lack of basic curiosity in the audience (I normally check the speaker’s background and will go to great lengths to attend talks by people who have done great work even if I did not know about them. I think most people do not go beyond cursory review of the ‘today’s science celebrity’ pages wherever those may appear…)

    I could go on and on; but I must write some more today.

    Thanks.

  5. Whew. Reading that in google reader I thought you meant the talk that Nobel Prize Winners give after winning was canceled.
    Even conferences are just dog and pony shows for vendors.
    You know, if they utilized and treated the internet more than just an added bonus for lectures and talks I bet you a lot of people would show up. I watch a lot of lectures online. The Cam-whores on myspace have better quality video and audio.
    Science has never been more popular than today, its just that there are a lot of us spread out over the world.

  6. Whew. Reading that in google reader I thought you meant the talk that Nobel Prize Winners give after winning was canceled.
    Even conferences are just dog and pony shows for vendors.
    You know, if they utilized and treated the internet more than just an added bonus for lectures and talks I bet you a lot of people would show up. I watch a lot of lectures online. The Cam-whores on myspace have better quality video and audio.
    Science has never been more popular than today, its just that there are a lot of us spread out over the world.

  7. When I first read the post, followed by the first comment, I was a bit puzzled as I didn’t see any “Lasker” in your post, till I read the second comment. πŸ™‚
    I dislike the use of strike-through when used by someone to make a clever point (when they strike out a word that’s really on their mind, followed by a PC/different word substitution – couldn’t they just delete it?), but in a case like this, I can see its use. (Or ETA.)

    Though if I had seen “Lasker” with the strike-through followed by “Evans” in your post, I’d still have to read the first comment to “get it.” πŸ™‚

  8. When I first read the post, followed by the first comment, I was a bit puzzled as I didn’t see any “Lasker” in your post, till I read the second comment. πŸ™‚
    I dislike the use of strike-through when used by someone to make a clever point (when they strike out a word that’s really on their mind, followed by a PC/different word substitution – couldn’t they just delete it?), but in a case like this, I can see its use. (Or ETA.)

    Though if I had seen “Lasker” with the strike-through followed by “Evans” in your post, I’d still have to read the first comment to “get it.” πŸ™‚

  9. @ Anangbhai: Thanks for your note. Academic conferences often do not have a lot of vendors as sponsors, so they become mega-networking opportunities and recruitment interviews. Much B-school faculty recruitment happens at one of the major annual management conferences.

    But I agree that webcasts may get them bigger audiences. As I mentioned in a previous comment, the research councils do not always promote the event well, so its availability is a discussion secondary to its awareness. Thanks.

    @ Amit: Catch-22 then, eh? I do not use the strike-through. It confuses me when I see it on other blogs, but here I may have managed to confuse many in one fell swoop it seems πŸ™‚ Sorry..

  10. @ Anangbhai: Thanks for your note. Academic conferences often do not have a lot of vendors as sponsors, so they become mega-networking opportunities and recruitment interviews. Much B-school faculty recruitment happens at one of the major annual management conferences.

    But I agree that webcasts may get them bigger audiences. As I mentioned in a previous comment, the research councils do not always promote the event well, so its availability is a discussion secondary to its awareness. Thanks.

    @ Amit: Catch-22 then, eh? I do not use the strike-through. It confuses me when I see it on other blogs, but here I may have managed to confuse many in one fell swoop it seems πŸ™‚ Sorry..

  11. //It is interesting and a pathetic reflection on society how those people, who were ahead of their time in their ideas, often need this sort of external validation to be noticed.//

    Ah, you touched my heart there. Very, very deeply.

  12. //It is interesting and a pathetic reflection on society how those people, who were ahead of their time in their ideas, often need this sort of external validation to be noticed.//

    Ah, you touched my heart there. Very, very deeply.

  13. Mahendra: Thank you for your kind words!

    Over on Ben Casnocha’s blog, there is a post on how personal blogs are always so upbeat. I was tempted to post a third view – the two prevailing ones are American and one European – but resisted. No time today. Many comments to reply to on my own blog, thanks to thesis… But you may want to read it. It talks about bloggers’ personalities.

    https://ben.casnocha.com/2006/07/personal_blogs_.html

    Thanks.

  14. Mahendra: Thank you for your kind words!

    Over on Ben Casnocha’s blog, there is a post on how personal blogs are always so upbeat. I was tempted to post a third view – the two prevailing ones are American and one European – but resisted. No time today. Many comments to reply to on my own blog, thanks to thesis… But you may want to read it. It talks about bloggers’ personalities.

    https://ben.casnocha.com/2006/07/personal_blogs_.html

    Thanks.

  15. Read it. Just like the first comment, I too thought of Viktor Frankl!

    The US/European perspectives are interesting, but too broad generalizations for me. Thanks for sharing! I would be interested in reading your third view, if you post one. πŸ™‚

  16. Read it. Just like the first comment, I too thought of Viktor Frankl!

    The US/European perspectives are interesting, but too broad generalizations for me. Thanks for sharing! I would be interested in reading your third view, if you post one. πŸ™‚

  17. Mahendra: Thanks. The religion post has created a massive backlog that I have to deal with now, and I have only myself to blame. πŸ™

    I am not sure I understood your “US/ Europe perspective” comment. Did you mean the elections related post? Or the Ben Casnocha post about upbeat personal blogs?

    Thanks.

  18. Mahendra: Thanks. The religion post has created a massive backlog that I have to deal with now, and I have only myself to blame. πŸ™

    I am not sure I understood your “US/ Europe perspective” comment. Did you mean the elections related post? Or the Ben Casnocha post about upbeat personal blogs?

    Thanks.

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