Science is dead.
I've been trying to figure out why I've been so upset and angry and sad and depressed over the last few weeks, more specifically, after my last project meeting with my supervisors. Well, last night, as I was planning a short catch up with a friend, I was "planning ahead" as to how to answer if she asked me how I was doing and why I was feeling that way. [I usually find that thinking about explaining things to someone actually helps me clarifiy and solve things actually.] I think I figured it out. Its because I have finally realised that science, is dead. And therefore, all my childhood dreams, aspirations, and ambitions have all been shattered, smashed and crushed to oblivion. I'm not sure if I should have used the words "dreams, aspirations, and ambitions", but I don't know what else to call them. In any case, they are all dead.Perhaps it was also me not wanting to admit the deaths that has brought me so much suffering.
Science has become… a commodity almost. People can buy and sell "knowledge" nowadays. It all starts with funding. Without funding, there is no "science". You can't do any experiments, can't hire anyone, can't pay for your school fees, can't even get a lab bench or desk. The people and companies with the money control all the experiements nowadays. If you want to prove something, you fund some research. If you get what you want, you publish it, in your own journal (like some of the pharmaceutical companies have) if you want, and it instantly becomes "fact". If the results of the research are not what you want, you bury it under copyright laws and ownership, which by the way is part of the contract they make you sign when you start the project off. Thus, the ones with the money control science and knowledge.
But what about government grants? Well, there is very VERY little of that nowadays, at least in most of the world. The grant application itself is so tedious and time consuming, that most professers and project leaders actually spend most of their time behind a desk writing these grant applications. They rarely, if ever, step into the lab anymore, let alone do any actual lab work. You see those people on the TV being interviewed about some breakthrough? Those are the grant writers. I don't mean to make them sound useless and bad, I mean its only because of the grant money that they can hire the people that actually do the work. And they do.. advise of course. Significant intellectual input, as it is called, is obviously required in any project.
To get these grants, these reseachers or principal investigators (PI) will most likely promise you anything, and I mean ANYTHING, just to get the grant. You want the next cure for HIV/AIDS? Sure! Cure for cancer? Sure! Formula for becoming master of the universe? Sure! How long? 5 to 10 years. Always, 5 to 10 years.
And to maintain these grants, they will publish of course, any and all sorts of results. Even dodgy ones. In fact, mostly dodgy ones. Most scientific papers these days are full of bull. More than half, or perhaps all of them, of the protocols lack some details, so you can't really reproduce the exact results. This is of course to impede your progress so that they will "stay ahead of the game" [the other thing that science seems to have turned into]. Oh and by the way, scientific journals don't publish work that reproduces or replicates another's work, so you don't actually know if anything works until you try it yourself.
Most academics and reseachers these days work with the vision to achieve only what's necessary for the next grant or funding application or publication. The worst or saddest thing is, they really do actually believe that they are doing the right thing.
Where has all the curiousity gone? What happened to studying something just because its interesting?What happened to having intuition and gut feelings? What happened to feeling anything in science?
We're not allowed to have intuitions and gut feelings anymore. Everything you do needs to have solid empirical evidence before you do it. Albert Einstein once said "The only real valuable thing is intuition"… and "I believe in intuitions and inspirations … I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am." Goodness knows how many times I've been told that intuition or gut feelings don't mean anything.
What happened to publishing or presenting findings simply to let others know what has been found? Why do we have to write in "scientific language"?
Science has increasingly become some sort of elite society where only the select few who speak the language and know the rituals can join up. Everyone else is suppose to remain ignorant I suppose?
What happened to being open-minded and thinking-out-of-the-box and being radical?
In the past, scientists were seen as eccentric and crazy and they thought the most fabulous ideas! and made the most fantastic discoveries! These days, step out of the "normal range" and they will cast you aside and ridicule you for thinking in other ways about the "established 'facts'". They act like they know things when they don't.
I don't want a renewal of science, a going back to what science used to be. Death is inevitable to everything. We shouldn't try to bring back life to something that is dead, because it never really revives to what it was before, and it never really ends well again either. I think, we should move forward towards a new way of thinking and discovering. Science comes from the latin word scientia which means "knowledge". That is what we need to gain back. The right to knowledge and the right to persue it and the right to let everyone know what new knowledge has been discovered.
The old science is gone. Death has come for it. But its seeds will carry on and become new forms of gaining, combining, and applying knowledge. A son is never exactly the same as his father, and a daughter is never exactly the same as her mother. That is why I say we shouldn't try to revive the old, but we can nurture the young and new. I feel that there are people out there who think and feel this way. I just know it!
I don't know what's sadder, that the science I love is gone, or that I took so long to notice the death of science.
So with half a glass of wine in one hand (the other half is in my belly), cheers to Science, and thank you for everything. My passion and my love will hopefully linger on for your children. I will miss you, I will grieve you, I will think fondly of you and read and savour your history. My heart is already broken for you.
Farewell and goodbye my beloved.