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    What Happened To Creativity In Science?
    By Andrea Kuszewski | October 19th 2010 09:34 AM | 44 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Andrea

    Andrea is a Behavior Therapist and Consultant for children on the autism spectrum, residing in the state of FL; her background is in cognitive

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    I'm going to be honest here. I have a bone to pick with science.

    A week or so ago on Twitter, I tweeted this:

    Based on some of the responses I got, I decided to probe a little further. I wanted to see if I was in the minority in my opinion, or if others felt the same way. Apparently, I'm not alone.

    The way we approached science about 30 or 40 years ago is vastly different than how we do today. I'm not talking about the obvious differences due to technology, either. Indeed, with the advances we've made in technology, we have opportunities for rapid and monumental discovery more now than we ever have at any point in history. So with these amazing modern research tools at our disposal, are we making the most progress possible in creative scientific discovery?

    I don't think we are. And here's why: Creativity is no longer encouraged in science.

    Sure, incremental creativity, such as replication or moving a field forward in a direction it's already going, is encouraged and expected. But I'm talking about paradigm-shifting and redirective types of creative output; the kinds of ideas that completely change the trajectory of a field, knocking the science world on its rear end, as Einstein, Feynman, and other pioneers in creative scientific research did. You just don't see that kind of risk-taking with scientific ideas anymore, and if you do, it's headline-worthy, and very infrequent.

    So when and why did this big shift in scientific mindset occur?

    One big one reason: Money. I can't state this any more eloquently than Physicist Hal Lewis did Friday, October 8th, in a resignation letter he submitted to the American Physical Society.  As distressing as this move was for him, he decided that after sixty-seven years, leaving was his only option. Here is the beginning portion of his letter (you can link to the rest):
    From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara
    To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

    6 October 2010

    "Dear Curt:

    When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was a much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

    Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence - it was WWII that changed all that.  The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists.  As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside, there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists.  We were therefore able to produce what I believe was, and is, an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. 

    We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere.  In the end, the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

    How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d' etre of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs.  For reasons that will soon become clear, my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society..."
    He goes on to describe and list in detail, the specific grievances he has with the Society's behavior surrounding Climate-Gate and other allegedly dishonest acts that followed.

    (Those details, while very relevant, to his circumstance in particular, are not necessary to discuss here in order to get a general picture of what happened to the field of science.)

    He goes on to say:
    "...Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don't think that is an issue.  I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago.  There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club.

    Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst.  When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.  As the old saying goes, you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.  Since I am no philosopher, I'm not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question..."
    I am too young to remember a time when it was any different than it is now, but I know plenty of people who were working towards their degrees in the Universities before the 1980s; it was truly a different time for research. It used to be enough that a scientist had an interesting concept to study, a problem that was intriguing, a new idea that had never been explored. But maybe I have an over-romanticized view of what research should be—seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake.

    It isn't like that any more. Now science is a business, one that has a market to feed, and those ideas which have no monetary market value are not ideas that we are encouraged to explore. Departments are funded by grants, grants which count on publications, publications that are printed in journals, which the public then purchases. This model worked for a while. But not any more.

    With the rise of the internet as a scientific tool, we are seeing this research/publishing model breaking down more and more every day. This old model didn't count on the lightning fast flow of information that is freely shared over the web, getting around the journal paywalls. Social media has become the Napster of academic articles; all it takes is a tweet, requesting a copy of an article, and it's delivered to your inbox in mere minutes. Some may say it's wrong to do this, but I say it's wrong to be restricted from using data in research just because you can't afford to buy it. Obviously the journals can't be making money this way, so why are we still pushing this model of research and publication? 

    Universities still need to worry about how many publications they can crank out in one year, so that they can secure their funding for the years to come. This type of situation seems a bit icky to me, and creates an environment that lends itself to desperation and dishonesty, as scientists feel the pressure to produce—it becomes more about quantity than quality. When that becomes more commonplace, so do things like this, where post-docs are sabotaging grad student experiments, afraid of falling behind in the race to publish, afraid of losing their jobs.

    When we are under such constant pressure to churn out a product, our creativity suffers. I've talked about this before a number of times. And since we need creativity in order to advance science, this whole pressure model of research and publication seems counter-productive to what we really want. So the question becomes: Is scientific discovery suffering?

    Why not investigate the effect of this publishing model on scientific output?

    Well, it has been investigated, in a way. After I sent that initial tweet, someone posted this article: Universities Are Trying Too Hard To Cash In On Discoveries, Says Academic Panel. Apparently, the introduction of patents and funding in exchange for scientific data following the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act has been a concern, so the National Academies decided to conduct an investigation. This is what the panels concluded:
    The Bayh-Dole legal framework and the practices of universities have not seriously undermined academic norms of uninhibited inquiry, open communication, or faculty advancement based on scholarly merit. There is little evidence that IP [Intellectual Property] considerations interfere with other important avenues of transferring research results to development and commercial use.
    Hmm. Well, I'd hate to come out and say I don't buy it, but I just don't buy it. Here's the main reason why:

    They collected their data in part by interviewing current employees and faculty members of institutions.

    This may seem to make perfect sense—if you want to know if employees are satisfied, feel like they are under pressure, or feel as if they have creative constraints, just ask them right? WRONG.

    There's this thing in social psychology we call Cognitive Dissonance. Specifically, the Effort-Justification Paradigm. This states:

    "Dissonance is aroused whenever individuals voluntarily engage in an unpleasant activity to achieve some desired goal. Dissonance can be reduced by exaggerating the desirability of the goal. Aronson&Mills had individuals undergo a severe or mild "initiation" in order to become a member of a group. In the severe-initiation condition, the individuals engaged in an embarrassing activity. The group turned out to be very dull and boring. The individuals in the severe-initiation condition evaluated the group as more interesting than the individuals in the mild-initiation condition."

    You can imagine that the stress, competition for a limited number of positions, the low pay, and the pressure to produce could be considered a "severe-initiation" condition. The point here is this: We can't just go on self-report from practicing academics, who have already been through the gauntlet to get where they are, and ask them how happy, fulfilled, and satisfied they are with their jobs. Even if they are unhappy, underpaid, and being creatively stifled, they are more likely to claim things are perfectly fine, just due to cognitive dissonance.

    How do you remedy this conundrum? I don't know—maybe interview people who have left academia for these reasons? In addition, perhaps they can talk to undergrads who are preparing for graduate study to get a feel for the expectations of potential candidates. Once you manage to secure your little spot in a department, either as a grad student, post-doc, or faculty member, chances are you're not going to do something to screw it up, like go on record in front of a committee and complain about how crappy life is in your department.

    What is the solution? Is there one?

    Honestly, I don't know what the exact solution is; I'm not saying I have all the answers here. But we need to stop kidding ourselves and pretending that the current model is working, because it isn't. Scientists aren't happy, journals are losing money, the public is in a state of discontent, magazines are folding, newspapers are in financial crises, Climate-Gate, Pepsi-Gate, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. So why are we still shoving this old model down our throats? Do we have a codependent relationship with the current state of affairs? Are we too afraid to take risks? If that's the case, no wonder we face a creativity crisis in America.

    We need to understand that we are living in a different world now. This is a digital age. We have different medium to work with. Paper journals, and waiting 6 months to a year for a peer-reviewed article to reach the public is unacceptable. Being required to pay to view scientific data is unacceptable. We need to find a new model for research, publication, and data sharing.

    A comment by Arikia Millikan during this discussion pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject as well:



    She's absolutely correct. Collaboration, open source data, and new types of 'peer review' that includes some type of crowdsourcing, is where we need to be headed. Open Access journals, such as PLoS One should be the standard, not the exception, for data sharing. There are some valiant attempts being made right now at adjusting to a new model of scientific research, specifically the addition of blogging platforms to increase science communication, but this isn't enough, and too many of them are falling short of fully embracing a digital, open-sharing network model. Much of what I see is the same old paper model being squeezed into a digital platform; we need to scrap the old model altogether and come up with something completely different in order for it to work.

    What are our options? Radical openness, for one. I mean REAL openness, inviting everyone in, not just a select few. I know, there will be validity issues to be addressed. Challenging? You betcha. But that shouldn't stop it.

    I know we can do this—we all just need to work together and embrace true collaboration. There is too much secretive hoarding of ideas, paranoia of being "scooped", and competition in the race to publish. We can solve so many more of the world's problems through collaboration— ideas sparking off each other, shining insight and gaining perspective in ways that are only possible when we pool our minds together. We need to put scientific discovery ahead of prestige and money if we are ever to break out of this information and creativity crisis. I know the brain power is there—let's give it a platform in which to emerge, grow, and flourish.

    Myself and Arikia on Twitter.

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat

    What are our options? Radical openness, for one. I mean REAL openness,
    inviting everyone in, not just a select few. I know, there will be
    validity issues to be addressed. Challenging? You betcha. But that
    shouldn't stop it.

    Brilliant article Andrea, I couldn't agree more and also perfect timing I think.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Andrea Kuszewski
    Thanks, Helen. This has been brewing for a while, and it was time to let loose a little, especially in light of recent news events. And... in honor of Open Access Week! :)
    Amateur Astronomer
    The way we approached science about 30 or 40 years ago was not so different than how we do today. About 30 years ago I exited from the American Chemical Society when they endorsed claims about ozone depletion that violated the most fundamental scientific principles. Equilibrium of a chemical reaction was claimed to be shifted by adding a catalyst. Objections from leading chemists were brushed aside. The money involved was powerful enough to dominate politics and control public policy. So now I have a new air conditioner in my home with an operating pressure of 400 pounds per square inch, which might explode if it was serviced by an unqualified person. Data from Radio Australia was completely ignored. They had 80 years of measurements for radio propagation over the South Pole. The Australian data strongly suggested that the ozone depletion occurred naturally about every 20 years in some way related to the solar cycle and the position of Jupiter and Saturn in the sky. Eventually scientific studies identified wind blown sea salt and the chlorine that comes from it as the immediate cause. The same big money that benefited from new refrigerants is now resisting the notions of global warming.
    Oh no, you scooped me! :)

    Seriously, I toyed with the idea of writing something along the same lines after reading Hal Lewis' letter last week, but (1) I am too lazy and (2) nobody cares what I write anyway. :/

    Excellent post.

    P.S. You might enjoy this, if you haven's already seen it: http://arxiv.org/abs/1008.1586

    Anon, nice article. Looking at the fields that one acquires expertise in as a “portfolio”, as an financial instrument reminds me of the recent and ongoing financial crisis in the US and the world. Virtually every “portfolio” of every investor dropped precipitously because the financial system had been “gamed” by the few in the financial sector who manipulated the markets, generated a gigantic bubble, lost gigantic amounts when the bubble burst, and then got bailed out.

    Who is “gaming” the intellectual marketplace with hype instead of substance?

    "But I'm talking about paradigm-shifting and redirective types of creative output; the kinds of ideas that completely change the trajectory of a field, knocking the science world on its rear end, as Einstein, Feynman, and other pioneers in creative scientific research did. You just don't see that kind of risk-taking with scientific ideas anymore, and if you do, it's headline-worthy, and very infrequent."

    You make it sound like paradigm shifting science was once common. I don't think it ever has been. Einstein and Feynman are well known because they were rarities.

    People still try to carve out new, paradigm shifting science. It often fails, not because the enterprise is corrupted by money or pressure to publish, but because it's incredibly hard.

    There is also tremendous resistance to new paradigms. When there is big stuff associated with the old paradigms, big money, big egos, big business, big universities, big anything, resistance to the change in the order of things is big too.

    Sure, there's resistance to new paradigms, but there always has been. Scientists are trained to be conservative, not go beyond the data, and look for alternative explanations. To paraphrase something I read a long time ago, scientists have always stoned heretics andconformists both, because only ideas that withstand the constant barrage of rocks are worth our attention.

    Examples might help. What cases are there of revolutionary, paradigm shifting creative science that Andrea is talking about that were resisted for reasons other than the scientific case hadn't yet been made to convince people?

    The person who won the Nobel Prize for the development of knockout mice was discouraged from using his funding for that research.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5865/900d

    The peer reviewers of the proposal gave it a low score and if it had not been successful in 4 years, the project would have ended. We now know that the technique is so valuable that it would have been worth many times the effort to develop.

    It is of course always trivially easy to argue that a scientific hypothesis is not "proven" because no hypothesis can ever be "proven".

    An ability to withstand being hit by rocks does not make an idea correct, only that the people holding it are resistant to being hit by rocks.

    M4Y0U
    I agree 100%. I mean now genes patenting? This is pushing back the researches all for the money... It's is becoming business more than research. And now even scientific frauds? What is going on?
    Really nice article again Andrea!
    Hank
    I have argued, and even kicked around the idea, of going beyond even open access - if you have to pay to read an article or you have to pay to publish an article, it is still a barrier to entry.  Print publishers say their model is essential but then pay-to-publish online people say the same thing.   In the future we may see open publishing instead of open access, where both the publication and the access are free.

    That's not without its risks, of course.  PLoS One lets some articles go without peer review and, with more articles published than any journal in the world you can see why that is necessary, given their size, but it keeps the doors open for the other journals because they have to think about money.  An open publisher might fall prey to the same issue - letting some articles go up because they would generate revenue (traffic, in an ad-supported model) in order to serve the overall good.   It requires rather deep pockets to avoid that and I have argued that if scientists are okay with the government controlling most of the funding and being a repository, why not let the government do the publishing also?  Peer review is still done the same way, just money is eliminated.

    On your main point, I don't think science is less creative today, I think it may be that its participants are.   Like in a video game, if you have a killer strategy, people will adapt it and that means playing a modern government funding model.    When scientists did not have a condescending attitude toward the corporate world, the private sector produced the most creative and best science in American history.    There is no Bell Labs of academia, Johns Hopkins gets $1 billion a year in government money and uses it to buy pretty buildings so they can attract researchers who can get more grants.   

    Obviously creativity still happens, and it is rewarded.  Andre Geim did graphene work with scotch tape, made a frog levitate and wrote a paper with his hamster - he still got a Nobel prize.   A culture that is not creative would never reward him so I think the culture is fine.    Academic science has just acquired the image of no creativity because a lot of creative people in science go into the private sector.
    Aitch
    But I'm talking about paradigm-shifting and redirective types of creative output; the kinds of ideas that completely change the trajectory of a field, knocking the science world on its rear end, as Einstein, Feynman, and other pioneers in creative scientific research did. You just don't see that kind of risk-taking with scientific ideas anymore, and if you do, it's headline-worthy, and very infrequent.
    Sounds like what I'm trying to encourage, by some of my posts

    People in Science sometimes lose touch with people outside Science moreso than other fields of life, partly because of 'a close-knit community' ethos which is maintained in training, partly because science has a habit of inventing language, which leaves lay people 'in the dark' as to what they are talking about, when they venture out into the 'real world', or via papers/publications being unobtainable, and partly because people like to have 'experts to sort that out - its beyond me'

    Here's to greater collaboration, more openness, greater trust, and a genuine recognition of our abilities as people to both talk and listen
    Sounds like a paradigm shift in the making!
    Who knows, it might even catch on....

    Hank, could you maybe set up 'Peer reviews.com' under the umbrella website you have? ;-)

    Aitch
    Samshive
    Hello Andrea

    I really enjoyed the article and I resonate with your sentiments. However, there are a couple of  things that you do not consider. As someone not working in academia, I do sympathise with  universities mainly because they cannot compete in terms of salary to private enterprise.  Keeping  the brilliant minds there to do research is difficult to say the least. Tto be honest, I think private  industry kills creativity just as much as academia. Accepting grants for "popular" fields of research   might be all that stands in the way of a professor from taking a lucrative private opportunity. And  while I do weep at this predicament, I would not be so quick to judge. Ideals do not keep you  satisfied in a world where material wealth is so alluring.

    The second thing that I think you did not consider is the fact that we possibly have not reached the threshold in terms of knowledge to actually have these creative, awe-inspiring ideas that you seek. It is possibly true that current academic circles are not conducive to creativity, but I honestly do not  think that we will fair much better with other systems. Making sources more open is an idea I support  wholeheartedly, but who honestly goes through them all even when they have access. And finally, I honestly think that if we are missing something profound, it is that we do not just take the time to  appreciate the majesty of what we have achieved and are continuing to achieve.
    Several years ago I attended to a conference given by Robert James Brown on the issue of epistemic reasons to "socialize" health care research:

    http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/594521?journalCode=phos

    There is data there, if the paper is close to the conference we heard, that supports your thesis already in the subfield of medical research and creativity, if the addition of the concept is not too stretching.

    I personally have the view that relying on money as a true measure of success in scientific research is to rely on things that do work to solve problems (Wiis that are fun, medicines that cure, cars that do not pollute, van Goghs that are van Goghs, etc. goods and services, i.e.). But to rely on other stuff beside money to measure success in scientific research is to rely on things that do work too; truth allow us to provide goods and services that do work. Well, to sum up; money is a good motivation as long as people understand how wealth actually works.

    I loved your post, Andi...

    Dave Deamer
    Andrea - I have a more optimistic view, based on personal experience as a researcher at the University of California. Here are a few examples from my campus, offered as counter examples to your suggestion that creativity has largely disappeared from science. In my department - Biomolecular Engineering - Jim Kent and David Haussler put the entire human genome online in
    2000, making it available for anyone to use at no cost. This effort required an incredibly creative approach to computational science.

    Also in my department, we just hired Ed Green as an assistant professor. You may not know Ed's name, but surely you have heard of his work on sequencing the neanderthal genome and showing that a small fraction of neanderthal genes lives on in the human genome, most likely by interbreeding  50,000 years ago when Homo sapiens migrated from Africa into Europe. When

    Harry Noller came to UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s, he decided to do something that most people thought would be impossible, which is to establish the structure of a ribosome at near-atomic resolution. A few years ago, the structure determined by Harry's research group was on the cover of a major scientific journal. And just a couple of weeks ago, Steve Vogt, in our astronomy department, made international headlines with his discovery of an Earth-sized extrasolar planet in the habitable zone around its star.

    This is just my campus! I could pick any major research university and give similar examples of creative breakthroughs. If you are bright, talented, passionate about science and want to be creative, there is nothing holding you back.

    So why so gloomy?  Oddly enough, I think one reason is that support for research in the US is suffering from an embarrassment of riches. The lion's share of funding goes to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  $31 billion in 2010. NIH spends half of its funds on individual grants to scientists, about 40,000 total in recent years. My point is that $16 billion funds the majority of published research in the US, but most of it focuses on narrowly defined health-related problems with little scope for creativity. Creativity is not gone, it is simply diluted. If you look, it's not hard to find.
    Ashwani Kumar
    What is Science ? Some hypothesis followed by methods leading to logical conclusions. What is involved Scientist: Scholar: Literature: Library: Confereneces: Corporates: Publicity: Public: Outcome. What has gone wrong; Outcome and human welfare are not matched. Science : Money: Society: Productivity. Productivity is going down in realtime it may be going up in impact factor but how much of it goes to increasing productivity ? Science has lost contact with society and that is where its not able to make contributions Science is reflection of society and society is outcome of scientific achievements Both are failing each other. Why blame one blame both. Scientist are doing utmost but is society doing its role of supporting them the way they need especially younger scientist who make the back bone of science.
    Aitch
    Science has lost contact with society and that is where its not able to make contributions
    I disagree, it has a significant role to play - don't just stick your heads in the sand, please
    Both are failing each other.
    Agreed, but are both aware of it?
    Why blame one blame both.
    Better yet, seek to publicise the problem evenhandedly, take blame out of the equation, and discuss in terms of how we can increase responsibility in each 1/2 of the dilemma
    I do not see this as 'just something for the soft sciences' as many in society lost faith with them first, and hard sciences have greater acceptance for many people
    I realise responsibility as a term in an equation is new to many scientists, but socially and ethically we will all benefit from its inclusion, and society might start to seek responsibility in other areas, like finance and politics, too

    Wouldn't that be nice? :)

    Aitch
    I have been working practically whole-daily for 32 years with what became my mission in theoretical physics. I have written 15 online books about my life work. Despite this it is still impossible to publish in so called respected journals, not even in arXiv.org, and it is of course impossible to get any funding. I am totally silenced by the elite because my work challenges the dominating fashions and dogmas in theoretical physics.

    Completely open publishing seems to be one way out and make possible the communication of really important ideas whose communication in respected journals is prevented. Maybe respected journals could gradually transform to a symbolic communication channel for the CV builders;-).

    Monasteries were the reaction of genuinely spiritual people to the moral decline of church at middle ages. Maybe something analogous might be needed in science. Just the minimal personal income for a person working in science would take care that only the really motivated people having genuine interest on science would remain in the field.

    Hank
    If your work is theoretical you don't need funding, right?   No one needs funding to think.
    I am not a physicist, just someone who likes mathematical ratio relationships. For years I have tried to
    obtain someones opinion about my work. IMPOSSIBLE, if your not in the establishment you don't exist.
    Lately I have been trying to, with no success, to have anyone read my latest paper. The topic is;
    Using just the physical constants; c, h, G and the rest mass of the electron, with simple ratios it is possible to predict, the average Astronomical Unit, the mass of the Sun, and the average velocity of any object orbiting the Sun at A.U. distance. These ratios allow for the formulation of a different type of gravitational equation which is specific for the solar system. There is nothing unique about the solar system, but, these ratios do predict exact values. Perhaps with in these calculations there will appear concepts which will allow for generalizations which would apply universally.
    Very exact predictions of these magnitudes are obtained by combining the ratios of simple constants and this seems impossible unless there is some underlying basis./Users/robertpropoggio/Desktop/THEORY /COSMOLOGICAL/Physical Constants & the Solar System #2 PDF.pdf

    The meta-model of corporate profit and the multitude of derivitive effects that result from it is the context from which this change emerged and therefore you suggesting that by changing the position of your boat in a given current that some how will cause the current to change. The current that has caused this corrupting transformation is the corporate model itself which is simply a model of self serving profit who's residue was destined to breach the ethical standard that the scientific diciplines once embraced....

    Hank,

    thinking involves heavy brain metabolism so that also thinkers must eat. Therefore a minimal support from
    society or even science community to people with brain would be needed unless theoreticians become beggar monks with rice bowl. This is what I have been actually forced to be. I hope that western civilization would be able to invent some better solution to the nuisance caused by people with brains.

    Hank
    Monks are a reasonable analogy.   By not having concerns about material wealth - funding and recognition from strangers - they became the most enlightened.
    Paradigm shifting should decline as science progresses otherwise it could be argued we are just a bunch of people in POMO World where science does not progress but just flits about from paradigm to paradigm. It is not paradigmatic of science that we must be creating new paradigms. We create paradigms because of necessity, because the data is demanding it, not just because we haven't had a new paradigm for quite a while.

    As to the wider issue of creativity, these comments remind me of the recent claims about "dumbing down". I suspect what is at play is a shift in cognitive styles more than dumbing down. After all, if we are dumbing down then please explain all the wondrous technological and research developments that continue at such an incredible pace. That we can derive so much utility from the existing paradigms is evidence that we need not be in that much of a hurry to create new paradigms.

    I do think that there is an increasing problem with money influencing research but my principal concern are issues like ghost writing paid by Big Pharma and "gifts" to doctors. My concern relates more to the pollution of our information sources than the issue of creativity itself. I want those information channels to be crystal clear but sadly today it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the potential catch, one big issue there being the sheer volume of research published. I have to wonder how much of that is wasteful. For example, a recent study of Chinese academic journals came up with shocking figures of plagiarism and concluded that many of these journals existed solely so that the students and academics could get their citation count up.

    Amateur Astronomer
    Matti has his own web site and a group of loyal readers. What he lacks is a sponsor to pay for it.
    Hank
    Again, since he is an amateur theoretical physicist, what does he need a sponsor for?
    Andrea Kuszewski
    Because writing and thinking takes time; time that is usually spent making money at other jobs so you can live. So... if you want to benefit from the insights and wisdom of a theorist that is producing written work, one needs to pay them so they can survive. Don't assume "just thinking" takes no time and thus costs nothing.
    Hank
    You're addressing a different topic.    Since as an amateur he already overturned all of mainstream physics, what would funding from the mainstream science community accomplish?   He could start his own journal online for free and publish his work, that takes no money.   It took no money to start this site unless my 'thinking' has a value I attach to it.  Certainly back then no one would have funded it, though a lot of people would like to acquire it now - if I had insisted I needed funding first it wouldn't exist (nor would places like Google).
    Gerhard Adam
    So... if you want to benefit from the insights and wisdom of a theorist that is producing written work, one needs to pay them so they can survive. Don't assume "just thinking" takes no time and thus costs nothing.
    Perhaps it might be more reasonable to consider that if you can't make money after having produced a written work, then maybe the work is worth little or nothing.  Many people, in many disciplines, consider themselves far more talented than they are, and I'm not prepared to support a system of entitlements by self-proclaimed "thinkers".


    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    He said sponsor so he wasn't necessarily asking for public financing, I was just curious what he would do with it.  

    That aside, getting private money is much easier than grants, he can simply work as hard at that as he did overturning physics and plenty of people will pay to see it developed more.  Taxpayer funding is much harder to get than smaller amounts of private money for visionaries.
    Aitch
    "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
    There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

    — Douglas [Gerhard :)] Adams  (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

    I guess there's nothing more to think about then!

    Aitch
    Gerhard Adam
    Not quite sure where you're going with that, Aitch.  There are plenty of things to think about, however it is presumptuous in the extreme to think that one's thoughts are so valuable, that one should be paid to sit around all day and simply formulate them.

    Nice work if you can get it.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    Well, If I understand Andrea correctly, she was saying that the creativity in science is playing 2nd fiddle to marketing
    The fact that you are talking more about the funding than the content of Matti's efforts, which you dismiss as maybe worth little or nothing, seems to support this

    Knowing the value of something HAS to be more than its cost, surely?

    Someone once said, "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."

    Aitch
    Hank
    Matti introduced the importance of money - ''Despite this it is still impossible to publish in so called respected journals, not even in arXiv.org, and it is of course impossible to get any funding."

    Creativity does not take money, as you just affirmed, so I was wondering why it is essential for him - plenty of artists and actors work as waiters until they get success.
    Gerhard Adam
    I have no quarrel with thinking and developing ideas.  I have a big problem with the idea that some people feel that they are entitled to support simply because they think their ideas have more merit than others.

    If Matt's efforts have value, then anyone that sees such value is certainly a potential source of funding.  However, I don't accept the idea that just because people have ideas and want to invest time that they are somehow entitled to such support. 

    I'm talking about funding, because the problem is when people assume that they are entitled to make a living at whatever strikes their fancy.  I'm not clear on why being a scientist is considered any more legitimate a career than being a science fiction writer.  While they may both have possibilities, they are not entitlements.  I can't simply get a "job" as a science fiction writer and expect to be paid a living in the hopes that I'll produce some masterpiece.  Similarly I can't get a "job" as a musician because I think I'm a great composer.  Each one of these areas requires investing my own time and energy in the hopes that an opportunity comes along where my ideas can gain traction and others may be willing to pay me for the results.
    The fact that you are talking more about the funding than the content of Matti's efforts, which you dismiss as maybe worth little or nothing, seems to support this
    I'm not particularly interested in Matti's efforts, so I'm only responding to his point regarding sponsorship.  It isn't my assessment of Matti's efforts that matter, but rather if he has published 15 online books and can't garner any interest, then perhaps it's worth considering that they have little or no value.  Once again, it's like the musician that has 15 CD's of music available and can't sell any.  At some point one has to consider that it may be because they aren't very good rather than some conspiracy by elitists to stifle your work.
    Well, If I understand Andrea correctly, she was saying that the creativity in science is playing 2nd fiddle to marketing
    Of course it is.  This is to be expected when people think they can simply take a "job" doing something and expect to have it recognized (by default) as having value.  Why is it assumed that the average "scientist" is doing something useful?  What is the basis for assuming that someone is being "creative"? 

    Just as no one is entitled to get paid simply because they have a "great novel inside them" or a "great musical composition", we all have the problem of having to earn a living in our society. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Amateur Astronomer
    "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." Aitch, there is something here for everyone. I try to avoid criticizing the ideas that Matti publishes, because we have some mutual friends who get really passionate about his writing. I read it and find it interesting as a first step in probing the frontiers of physics. Its not a complete system and doesn’t lead to a more fundamental understanding of nature. The best parts of his thermodynamic geometry in cosmology have already been taken into the main stream of science years ago and emerged recently as entropic gravity on a hologram. The publishing events for entropic gravity brought a storm of arguments about who really originated the ideas. Other people got most of the credit for work that started about 15 years ago. In discussing people I would compare Matti to Oliver Heaviside with the conclusion that Heaviside eventually got credit for his work after he died. Some of his methods became widely used in his lifetime while other people were getting most of the credit. So far Matti has not accomplished as much as Heaviside did, so the lack of recognition is understandable. Part of recognition depends on personality, and part depends or organizational skills. A lot of creativity has been killed when the most productive people didn’t get the credit. In more recent times the management either public or private must take the responsibility. The current programs for producing managers look a lot like a cookie cutter operation. That’s not how the great research labs of the past that Hank referred to were managed.
    kerrjac
    What is the solution? Is there one?
    For what it's worth, there are a few excellent examples of private research. I'm often impressed with news I hear coming from the Gates Foundation; the X Prize Foundation has a unique way of awarding money; private groups have transformed large areas of research (particularly genomics and drugs), and occasionally no name non-profits will transform smaller fields; some charity groups are very innovative in how they spend their money; and this group (http://fold.it/portal/info/science) came up with a game to help advance molecular biology. 

    Science I think needs a strong foundation, with money and safety nets, so it can't all simply be placed online for people to do in their spare time. But to the degree that these outside efforts actually yield results, they should be integrated more with mainstream research. At the same time, in swimming through today's frustrations, I'm not sure that academic research ever had all that much influence in the past. It's just bigger now.
    Hank
    For what it's worth, there are a few excellent examples of private research.
    A few?   The overwhelming majority.  The scotch tape Andre Geim used for graphene and that got him a Nobel prize was not created by academia.   Bell Labs contributed more to science in the latter part of the 20th century than every university in history ... combined.
    Amateur Astronomer
    I wouldn’t call Matti an amateur. He’s more like an early retired college teacher with a PhD in physics and some unorthodox opinions that got him kicked out of his university job. http://www.scienceoflife.nl/html/who_is_matti_pitkanen.html Matti has 5 articles accepted by arXiv. http://arxiv.org/find/all/1/all:+AND+Matti+Pitkanen/0/1/0/all/0/1 Rejection of his work is more from politics than science. Finland does not have a strict separation of church and state. Matti allows the possibility of spirit and consciousness to reside in hidden dimensions and contribute to the physical structure of the universe. Otherwise his writing is not that much different from other scientists on the web. It’s an extension of string theory into a larger number of dimensions to unite Quantum Mechanics with General Relativity. Matti has rewritten many parts to compensate for new discoveries in science. I’m not among his biggest fans, but I seem to be acquainted with a number of people who are. His book was published in 2005. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Topological-Geometrodynamics-Matti-Pitkanen/dp/0...
    This is being swept under the carpet like the last embarrassment.

    There's a new video about that last embarrassment here:

    Some people who have not learned about the "No Pressure" thing, will have trouble believing the real story here.

    Using multiple short parody clips it tells the story backward.

    "Was This Originally A Prank? (gore obscured)"


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnVp7TdbTa8 < /a>

    I've got a question about the Bayh-Dole follow-up. You've said that you reject the findings of the investigative panel, and I am fine with this. But I don't feel as though you've demonstrated sufficient evidence for me to agree that their findings are invalid. Mind you, if your premise of Cognitive Dissonance is valid and applicable in this case, I admit the rest of what you say is a logical extension of this argument.

    I have no doubt that this CD effect is real, but it strikes me that a critical portion your argument is hanging on facts not in evidence. At the very least we must assume that CD, as defined and described in this article, was present in a statistically significant portion of the respondents. Was this the case? And if so, how was this demonstrated?

    "Creativity is no longer encouraged in science."

    I agree, and this is at least partially a consequence of the current educational system from which new scientists emerge. There is no creativity in education and therefore, we cannot expect much creativity in the current and future scientific endeavors into which those to-become-scientists will engage. If one could nowadays compile a list of all students' reactions to unknown (or simply forgotten) matters and pick up the best and most populated representatives, they would be like "We did this 1 year ago, so we do not both know it and need to know it." or "This was not taught, so it cannot be required." . There is no passion for new knowledge going beyond what is required neither there is time for that. Students no longer learn & create - they do, like robots and machines. Grades have already become more important than knowledge, so there is no incentive to depart from the predictive mainstream that will bring you good grades and/or degree. Creativity in education is dead, everything there has become purely incremental, and hence, science has become so too.

    "If your work is theoretical you don't need funding, right? No one needs funding to think.

    Therefore, either science does not need funding or scientists do not think. Such a "profound" comment!

    It actually is exactly on topic - thinking is slowly disappearing from science and at the same time is being replaced by ... hard, persistent, predictive, incremental work. It's no longer a challenge to get a PhD or MD because you do not need to be able to think (i.e. be smart) anymore. You must be just able to consistently follow rules, protocols and already traveled paths. Such an easy and non-creative approach.

    Nowadays, the funding model for science kills thinking => no one needs funding to think; money is simply given for incremental, safe and easily predictive "ideas".

    Who are you? Who are you to pass judgement on science? Wanker.

    this is not exactly true.cmon we are still on a path of discovering path breaking discovries.let me tell you everything in science is creative.whatever related with mayit be general theory of relativity or newtons law of mation orhawkings radiation learning anything in science is a matter of creativity