Scratch your back, you scratch mine

Humanity is pretty much the same wherever you look, give or take a very few details. This includes the flaws and virtues.

The guy who first proposed the theory of plate tectonics was considered a lunatic for many years and shunned by the scientific community. Darwin’s theories were pretty sponsored by folks who wanted to prove that blacks were descended from monkeys, and thus should be considered an inferior race. Schopenhauer reported that German academia in the early 1800’s was a system of scratch your back and I will scratch mine, and articles were published not so much based on intrinsic value, rather, political prowess of the writer. The academic grant system is a complicated, difficult to navigate and overly political catacomb, where projects often get approved (or rejected) based on considerations other than usefulness. Additionally, try to get a research project funded, if the topic is looking into creation as an option for the appearance of the universe, it will be rejected as being “unscientific”, because the powers that be don’t want the boat rocked.

In fact, the same troubles that pervade other higher echelon of human activities, such as politics, corporations, government, journalism/media, entertainment, religion, affects academia and science. A system where you better play your political cards right, or else, you become a pariah in the “community”. Scientists like to see themselves as immune from this type of garbage, but the fact is, they are just as subject to it. Ego pervades academia as much as it does elsewhere.

I do not think there are all that many “history of science” courses taught at universities, that show the darker side of the scientific profession. Their inclusion as a requirement in all scientific curriculum would certainly be interesting, however extremely unlikely. 

Having one’s back scratched every once in a while is nice.


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