Science is not Magic (minipreps)

Peter Prevelige prevelig at eastman1.mit.edu
Thu Jul 9 16:07:15 EST 1992


So what is the problem with kits? 

Lots of people complain about kit science without articulating a
reason why they are "bad". So, I will tell you why I think they are
bad. People don't understand what they are doing when they use them,
in some cases (where info is proprietary) it is impossible to
determine how they work, in others it is just lazy. 

While I find it difficult to understand how anyone could consider
themselves a scientist without understanding the basis of what they
are doing, this may be very personal viewpoint. In my estimation the
problem with the "kit" mentality is that it leads to stagnancy in the
development of methods. If you don't understand the basis of what you
are doing, how can you troubleshoot, and how can you improve the
method. As a previous poster has said, it makes science appear to be
magic. 

In times past it was observed that crushing grapes and letting
them sit resulted in the production of wine. Why study that process?
when we can crush grapes, and wait, and we will have wine, mostly.
Sometimes it didn't work, but hey, must be "bad" grapes. Throw it out
and start again. Then some scientists decided to attempt to UNDERSTAND
the process, and biochemistry with all its wonderful discoveries was
born.

And that is what I consider dangerous about the "kit" mentality. I
don't care how much research costs, and who beats who, but I am
worried about a generation of scientists who don't know the joy of
discovery, but only want to drink the wine.

--
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Peter Prevelige       Though I Could Not Caution All, I Still Might Warn a Few
Dept. of Biology      Don't Lend a Hand to Raise No Flag Atop No Ship of Fools
16-534 MIT 
Cambridge, MA. 02139
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