U27111 at U27111 at
Sun Jan 21 02:55:08 EST 1996

berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote on 19 Jan
1996 10:22:48 -0800:

>Constructive Solution: put a limit on how many comments are
>allowed from a given person per year (say, 5). Than people will
>be choosy about what they want to comment on in a given journal.

People will not comment at all... or write useless comments.

There will be no true criticisms of other people's work... this is
a dream.

Scientist's will barely admit things they find wrong in another's
paper in private... let alone say it in public.  We are all too
'civilized' for that!

These days... I am more and more convinced it's a matter of
changing attitudes or tossing those with the 'wrong' attitudes out
of the system.

And I am not talking MacCarthism here either.  Finger pointing or
what have you. (which is why I generally avoid naming names... it's
just not the people I have worked for or seen - it's all over.  And
naming names does not clear up the problem of why we have these
type of people in the first place). [BTW, I am not making up any of
the numerous examples I have given either... as some personal email
has suggested!]

Anyway, it's more of a matter of setting up a system which can
recognize those with the proper attitudes of putting the pursuit of
truth *first*, above self-interest and allowing for those who feel
otherwise to fall out of the system.

You see... currently, it's the other way around.  Those of us who
do feel this way (and have the proper attitudes for conducting good
science) are being 'pushed' out.  We need to somehow reverse this
in order to give this idea of yours a chance.

Because I highly doubt you will get much constructive feedback in
such a system as we currently have?  I really doubt it.

Plus... it is really such a waste of time having to even debate
such issues in the first place.  This will slow the process down
(even though, if it actually worked, would speed it up from what we
currently have?)

And just think, even if it did work... we would have people who are
competitors in the same field finding fault with each other's work
just to find fault and take their competition to a whole other
level - also slowing the process down.

Finally, this idea of yours is caving into the premise that
scientific standards have drifted so far away from what they should
be that we even need to do such a thing!

No... it's all boiling down to a lack of morales, ethics and
standards in our community.

-    Ethics is being handled by this idea of teaching it more in
     schools and institutes developing their own code of conducts.

-    Standards aren't even being addressed at all!  And we are
     currently a community without standards.  Which is very self-
     evident in how we are loosing the ability to even properly
     perform the 'basics'

-    And morales... this has taken the biggest beating.  For the
     current morale leader we have is Gallo for others to follow

I don't know Alex.  I tend to agree with your anonymous writer who
thinks it has to be nipped in the bud at the learning level and to
cut the size of the field community down.

But I just don't know how to do this in a timely manner where we
can truly address the devastating effects of a world wide pandemic!

Do you realize that we, here in the US, are working with an NIH
budget of over 9 billion dollars per year!  And no matter what
arguments we have had in this NG concerning the progress of science
(or the lack there of)... nobody can sit here and tell me that we
make enough progress to justify 9 billion dollars a year!  No way.

It just doesn't add up.  And yet we want even more?

When a good portion of this is waste due to funding slop, fraud and
misconduct (which is another debateable topic... even back during
the Baltimore affair, scientist have been arguing that these are
'rare events'... and so it's an old, as well as an useless
argument, especially when we lack a system of self-policing as we
currently do?  To use an advisory's own comments back to 'em...
there is no scientific bases for this belief that such events are
'rare'!  Where we have much to offer to the contrary).

Thus, where do we go from here?

Out of curiosity... are there meetings for such discussions?  I
know JAMA, here is Chicago, has had a few meetings on Peer-
Review... with some interesting studies, comments, coming out of

But are there meetings anywhere on Ethics, Conduct, and Funding?
And places where people are sitting and talking about such things
as we have here for some time now?

Just curious.


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