PhD/Funding: Stop Expertocracy

Michael S. Straka mike.straka at
Mon Mar 18 17:53:28 EST 1996

On 15 Mar 96, Alexander Berezin <berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA> wrote:

>Comments on Mike Straka's proposals:

[some excellent comments snipped]

>I would rather see ASTRONOMERS deciding on the PhD allocations
>in ZOOLOGY (and zoologies on PhD allocation in astronomy), than
>the other way around - it is easier to see from the outside of
>the area (much lesser bias) than from within. 

I agree totally.  I also agree with the idea to eliminate anonymous 
peer review.  I think that any discourse w/ regard to merit of work
done for publication and grant proposals would be much healthier if
criticisms and comments were made with attribution.  This is probably
not the time (within this thread) to recall the discussion re APR 
which took place some time ago, so I'll limit my comments to the above.

>Think of that. Problem with all 3 Big B's of our society
>(Big Government, Big Business, and Big Science) the same
>root: almost unlimited, unquestioned faith in the decision 
>making capacity of Expertocracy which has now relapced all 
>the traditional shamans of the previous generations. 
>Science (and specifically, university-based science) urgently
>needs much more open and participatory models.      
>[ rest is cut for brevity, despite that Mike has many 
>other good ideas there - see his original poster ]
>Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
>Department of Engineering Physics
>McMaster University, Hamilton,
>Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
>tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546

I think you are exactly right in proposing that "experts" in one 
area should be responsible for recommendations in another, NOT their
own area.  You are correct in stating that the view from within one's 
own discipline often gets skewed by prevailing lines of thought, based
on the reputation of certain people, or for some other reason.  I
wonder why this approach hasn't been adopted by the present scientific

-Mike Straka, PhD
Instructor, Dept Pediatrics
UCHSC, Denver

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