Sunday, December 4, 2016

Study: Elite scientists can hold back science - Vox

Image result for copernicus theory
This is data to back up Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. See also Deadly Dust~ silicosis and the politics of occupational disease by Rosner and Markowitz. Scientists swept away by the power of Koch's identification of the tubercle bacillus, they insisted that granite cutters had tuberculosis, rather than a dust disease.
Similar resistance was seen in the asbestos struggle. University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist Philip Enterline demonstrated that no researcher who was a skeptic about carcinogenicity ever changed his mind.
It is, I suppose, human nature. It is a rebuttal of the argument that scientists remain skeptic and seek evidence that their previously formed conclusions were incorrect. Who does that? Not me, and, I would wager, not you. - gwc
Study: Elite scientists can hold back science - Vox
Max Planck — the Nobel Prize–winning physicist who pioneered quantum theory — once said the following about scientific progress:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Shorter: Science is not immune to interpersonal bullshit. Scientists can be stubborn. They can use their gravitas to steamroll new ideas. Which means those new ideas often only prevail when older scientists die.
Recently, researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released a working paper — titled, "Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?" — that puts Planck's principle to the test.
Sifting through citations in the PubMed database, they found evidence that when a prominent researcher suddenly dies in an academic subfield, a period of new ideas and innovation follow.
The NBER team identified 12,935 "elite" scientists — based on the amount of funding they receive, how many times they've published, how many patents they invented, or whether they were members of the National Academies of Sciences or the Institute of Medicine. Searching through obituaries, they found 452 of these elite researchers died before retirement. Because science leaves a dense paper trail of citations, publish dates, and author bylines, it's (relatively) easy to track changes in publishing patterns after a prominent death.
Here's the pattern: After the unexpected death of a rock-star scientist, their frequent collaborators — the junior researchers who authored papers with them — suddenly see a drop in publication. At the same time, there is a marked increase in published work by other newcomers to the field:

No comments:

Post a Comment