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Scientists Publish Letter Saying, "We Need More Scientific Mavericks" 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the funding-favors-the-bold dept.
coondoggie (973519) writes "Gotta love this letter published in the guardian.com this week. It comes from a number of scientists throughout the world who are obviously frustrated with the barriers being thrown up around them — financial, antiquated procedures and techniques to name a few — and would like to see changes. When you speak of scientific mavericks, you might look directly at Improbable Research's annual Ig Nobel awards which recognize the arguably leading edge of maverick scientific work."
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Scientists Publish Letter Saying, "We Need More Scientific Mavericks"

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  • If "scientists" want more maverick's in science...then they need to **hire** and **promote** more mavericks...then write and *publish* papers about their theories

    Right now, anyone who doesn't toe the institutional line will get put with the Graduate Advisor who is either A) insane or B) can't speak English and only was hired to get more full-tuition-paying foreign students

    If you want the pedigree you have to 'drink the kool-aide' of whatever academic is above you

    Don't get me wrong, TFA is a good start, but they need to do alot more than this to make academia right again

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The "over-spending" on academic research in past decades has produced an over supply of PhDs that can't find jobs.
      We'd probably be better off with fewer people entering grad school than throwing more money at them - thus creating an even bigger problem.
      More researches doesn't equal more mavericks.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The "over-spending" on academic research in past decades has produced an over supply of PhDs that can't find jobs.
        We'd probably be better off with fewer people entering grad school than throwing more money at them - thus creating an even bigger problem.
        More researches doesn't equal more mavericks.

        So, for a fixed amount of research money, those damned academics realized that they could get the most done by underpaying PhD students and have them do all the work. Sounds like capitalism to me. I know, who would've thought that a bunch of PhDs could figure out how that works.

      • More researches doesn't equal more mavericks.

        surely not.

        I think we're talking past each other...I'm responding to TFA's contextualization of the problem and their idea of how to "fix" it...the problem of a lack of "mavericks"

        about how we have "too many PhD's"...to me that just sounds ridiculous, but I know what you mean at the same time.

        the work exists...all of academia gets twisted b/c of how it interacts with the private sector which has caused a systemic problem that **keeps research from getting funded*

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're quite the maverick yourself, pluralizing with an apostrophe and within the same sentence, pluralizing the same word without an apostrophe! The mind truly boggles! Or is it boggle's?
      • hey AC...thnx for the comment...I lol'ed

        yeah my punctuation sucks...but grammar nazi's suck more...

        you however kept a lighthearted tone which makes it at least neutral if not constructive...

        so, in reward for your only *mildly* annoying grammar-nazi-ness....I will endeavor to fix my possessive punctuation from now on

    • by the biologist (1659443) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @11:28PM (#46530819)
      As someone going through a PhD program in biology you don't know what the hell you're talking about. The only institutional line that matters is, "Bring in grant money!".

      The rest of it is pretty much spot-on, but not really any different than in business or anywhere else. You've got to convince your bosses to keep from firing you, after all.
      • right on...good for you w/ your PhD program...I wish you all the best!

        I understand that, say, in a happy hour gathering of grad students + recent PhD's you could fire off the comment, 'The only institutional line that matters is, "Bring in grant money!".' and the whole group would bellow in agreement.

        I also agree...however if we're talking about a *fix* for this problem, you have to stop thinking like a student.

        That "grant money"...it doesn't go to you...it goes to **your program** or **a specific professor

        • I am a professor who mentors PhD students on projects supported by NIH grants. I totally disagree with the assessment of needing to drink the kool-aid to get in on a grant. Most of the PIs (professors that wrote the grant) that I know really do not want a PhD student to come in an be a "parrot" by simply repeating everything the PI says and thinks. The PI gets very little out of this, and it advances a project to a much lesser degree than a student who can make an intellectual contribution. The problem with
          • The problem with lack of support for Maverick-type people is that the granting agencies have become quite risk averse

            no...the problem is that people like YOU are **risk averse**

            you can't blame the granting agencies for decisions you make...I get your point RE: translational vs theory is off-kilter, but that's not b/c of "mavericks" it's b/c corporations fund research at universities that is intended to increase their profits + build equity.

            Stop blame-shifting and start practicing what you preach! If you get

            • I don't think you have much of a basis to judge how the NIH works, how it makes funding decisions, how it decides what areas of research it will emphasize, how it determines the ways in which grant proposals are reviewed, scored, and funded. You can choose to listen to someone who has first hand experience in the area, or can choose to continue to be a turd and hurl spurious ad hominem attacks at me.

              You have no idea what decisions I have made. I certainly have not decided to cash in by taking corporate fu

              • This whole comment thread is about **students**...the future "mavericks" that people like you purposefully alienate.

                You are a PhD supervising professor...you're **exactly** the person who needs to **change** and be more open to promoting "mavericks"

                Promoting & encouraging "mavericks" has **absolutely notion to do** with you getting NiH grants.

                Nothing.

                You tried to make some kind of point about how if you took TFA & my advice and actually, **proactively** advocated for "mavericks" that it would affect

                • You have no idea of what you are talking about. You like to attack and clumsily try to poke fun, but you offer no insights into possible solutions. You also know nothing about me, and how I encourage students to question everything and explore novel ideas. Somehow you assume that scientists don't like science and discovery. Somehow you assume that I alienate students. Are you serious??? Look, maybe you had some experience with an a-hole professor or something, but do not make assumptions about me, or other

                  • This comment thread is absolutely about **students** because I started it.

                    Read my response that started this thread....go ahead...I'll wait...

                    This is about **me** a former professor and ABD, telling **you** a current professor who supervises PhD's to **stop holding back people who are "mavericks" in your work, in all ways**

                    Stop alienating and marginalizing people with challenging ideas.

                    Stop forcing your students to "drink the kool-aid"

                    Stop making excuses and change NOW

                    • Sure your comment discusses students. The article in no way does. The article makes salient points about how to support mavericks in science. You do not. Read the article. I'm done.
                    • Here's when you entered the discussion,

                      I am a professor who mentors PhD students on projects supported by NIH grants. I totally disagree with the assessment of needing to drink the kool-aid to get in on a grant.

                      Then you proceeded to say how **your** program isn't like the programs in TFA

                      The point of contention, which you have dropped b/c you're proven wrong, is that

                      I totally disagree with the assessment of needing to drink the kool-aid to get in on a grant

                      That's the disagreement.

                      I showed you to be a typical

      • To be fair, grants seem to be awarded more to conservative, safe, boring studies. A grant application that either will totally break new ground or fail completely will not be funded. A grant which is sure to advance the field but incrementally has a much better chance.

        Moreover, at least within biology, "translational research" is all the rage and is getting more and more money, while basic research loses money. Translational research seems to be "take things we already know and move them towards med
        • I think you summarized it very well. There are some (non-government) organizations, like HHMI, which focuses most of its funding on people rather than projects. This is the old style of funding discussed in TFA. The labs getting the HHMI funding generally do really well in terms of breakthroughs; although there is a selection for excellent labs that receive HHMI. It seems to me that the role of gov't funding of science should be more focused on the basic/breakthrough level rather than the application/"trans
    • Can't figure out how this was modded "insightful". Perhaps by stating the universal law that "the boss is a dick" in a different way. ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    TFA claims 25% success rate for grant applications which hasn't been true in a long time. Last I heard the NIH claimed 18%, which is bullshit, it's not anywhere near that good either. Some fields don't hit 10% funding rates.
    • by Phillip2 (203612)

      Shocking though it may be to you, these scientists who were publishing a letter in a British Newspaper are by and large resident in Britain. I would hazard a guess that the majority of their research funding does not come from NIH, but from the UK research councils.

      Trust me, mavericks or not, I bet all the signatories could tell you the success rate for all the grants schemes they apply to.

    • Agreed on the 18% being bullshit. They have some wacky formula that uses revisions of grants to reduce the total number of "grants" and inflates the percentage.
  • I'd love it if the government threw an extra 10-50 bil into researching diseases, working on stem cells.

    I'd love if if they raised NASA's budget.

    The only reason there's STEM problems is that the government is too busy paying off themselves: the corporations and senators.

    Now would be the perfect time in our jobless economy. There's *TONS* of talented folk who don't even get a chance to work. These are the minds that could find the cures for diseases, or invent new materials for the future.
    • by epyT-R (613989)

      I'd love it if the government would throw that extra 10-50 bil (of raw tax income) into paying off the debt and do its part to help secure the financial future of the first world. The last thing we need are more silly blue ribbon programs that do nothing but shuffle money into political thinktanks and corporate welfare, like you suggested.

      • Well that's not going to happen. So long as there are greedy politicians, they're going to funnel the money to their own pockets and their campaign contributors thus setting the nation up to fail through massive debt.

        The least we can ask is for a pittance for science sake before they sink the boat completely. The whole problem as I see it is we let corporations legally buy off politicians via campaign contributions. They feel no loyalty to the American people, but lots of loyalty to the people giving
      • How is support for stem cell research the same as "shuffling money into political thinktanks and corporate welfare"? Did I miss sarcasm, or are you being a dickweed?
    • I firmly believe that we should re-direct about 25% of the military budget back into NASA. NASA should also stop building rockets; obviously private enterprise is better at that (now) and instead develop NEW tech instead of re-building 40 year old stuff...at this point, SpaceX and such could easily "take over" this area as it's not as much science anymore as it is engineering. NASA should be pushing us to new frontiers, not just launching spy / comm sats...NASA can't even launch a human into space at the
      • Rockets were always built by private corporations - like Lockeed Martin - the "innovation" in SpaceX is simply a change in the terms of the contract by which the rockets are funded - the Saturn V was built by Boeing, McDonnel Douglas and IBM as lead contractors - I love how we equate innovation with a change in contract, or how we equate money with actual value - it is like being confused over the difference between a pointer to an object with the object itself
        • true, I should have said that SpaceX is building rockets without having specific contracts lined up already like Boeing et al had with the Saturn 5. And I think SpaceX's main innovation is the assembly-line style system their working on, as opposed to the almost one-off system that is usually used. I've seen pics of their assembly area, there were at least six Dragon capsules being built simultaneously.
  • Well maybe we should start funding more basic research or off the main path ideas.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @09:16PM (#46529995)

    by being a maverick in science?

    Face it, the scientific establishment has ruined science.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @09:22PM (#46530045)

    This is a lot of hand-wringing over a situation these guys created.

    We have a system created by and for established academics. These guys have displaced both the great individual scientists of the past (think Feynman), but also the great scientific managers (think Oppenheimer). In combining these two roles, they have created hierarchies capable of continuous and low risk scientific advancement. Think about how steady and predictable scientific advancement is these days. This is an amazing and great achievement, but it also sucks the spirit and excitement out of being a scientist. And along the way certain fields just have to wait.

    So, ok, let's talk about what happens if we want to fix this.

    The main thing that needs to be reversed is to restore the separation of management and science. Scientists who want to manage large groups get to be management. They have to be able to content themselves with just being the grant writer, and not being in charge of the science, marketing, data presentation and every aspect of their colleague's career development. Scientists who don't want to be management have to be ok with allowing other people to be in charge. Running your own group can't be all of our goals. Professors need to get back to doing the actual work that got them their position.

    • "The main thing that needs to be reversed is to restore the separation of management and science."

      What separation? If as a PhD you can't think up more ideas worth following up than you can do the hands-on work yourself you're a piss poor PhD. This can start at a very junior level: I am no one special but I had three undergraduate research assistants assigned to me as a senior grad student and I was able to train them and still get back more work than I had spent in training and managing, a win-win as
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think you're missing the point. Yes, right now great professors do everything. That includes attracting great talent and then having those people work on uncreative, pre-existing projects for years at a time. That's the specific problem TFA was addressing. All of those guys (also great academics) realized this is an issue. Keep that in mind here.

        You have a PhD. Great, so do I. Do you have a management degree? I don't. That's why I hired a professional manager to run my company. Do you think you'r

    • by ganv (881057)

      Yes, a more realistic vision of managing science would be an important improvement. Currently you make your way to a permanent position by producing a lot of results that impress established scientists, which in practice often means you extend and confirm their work. This expands the community in which the senior established scientists run the show. But they are expected to manage and do science. Many of them are not skilled in managing, and when they do manage well, they are no longer able to engage

  • Not so easy to do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid (1252388) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @09:37PM (#46530163)
    So ... let's say you're on a funding panel, with 120 grant proposals in front of you, and you have to recommend twenty of them as top priorities for funding. The rest of them are going to go without, because that's all the money you have to allocate. Thirty of those proposals are from established, productive researchers with track records of transformative discoveries. Another thirty are from promising young researchers with first-rate pedigrees looking for their first grants to launch careers that may span decades. Thirty are from mediocre old guys nearing retirement who have been in the funding pipeline forever, and have been getting grants mostly by inertia. Thirty are semi-coherent ravings from people who display very little comprehension of the existing literature or of the basic parameters of the field.

    Now find the "mavericks". You have to have a ranked list by tomorrow afternoon.
    • by manu0601 (2221348)
      Perhaps the problem is the whole grant system. The money could be directly allocated to laboratories. After all, if they exist, it means the structure that host them decided they have some value. Why do we have to evaluate them twice?
    • by Heshler (1191623)

      Easy. Split between the first 2 groups. Currently, too much money probably goes to the 3rd group, but there is non-negligible value to an established lab.

      The problem is not who to give the money to, the problem is what research ideas to fund. Currently, funding is too risk adverse. Especially in the hard sciences, you have to be able to make claims that your research will have near-medium term economic benefit. This is a great way to allocate a portion of funding, but once a researcher has made a name

    • Re:Not so easy to do (Score:5, Informative)

      by Goldsmith (561202) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @01:04AM (#46531223)

      What you describe is very close one of my first jobs when I worked for the government (100 proposals, one week, pick 4 winners, summary comments for all). It's not so hard to pick out the "good, but risky" proposals. (Another way to split up your proposal list is to point out that 80 of the proposals will be a re-hash of the same stuff, 30 of the proposals will be nonsense and 10 proposals will actually be about something unique and relevant.)

      The most common reason for a creative proposal failing is simply that the program manager wasn't ready for it. You don't want to surprise a program manager because they have to properly prepare the bureaucracy around them to support your project *before* they get your proposal.

      When a review committee makes a decision, there are still several government people who have to sign off on that decision before the money flows. There will always be at least one lawyer and one accountant with veto power over a committee selected proposal.

      The last thing a program manager wants to do is end the fiscal year with money in their accounts. That can get them demoted or fired. They meet with their support staff sometimes for a year ahead of reviewing proposals to make sure everyone knows what's coming. Slowing things down, or failing to execute a grant, because of administrative surprises is very, very risky for a program manager. There's strong pressure to select institutions who have already worked with the office, and projects that fit well with the briefings given to everyone before proposals were solicited. For unusual ideas, it's better to convene a workshop and spend the next year developing a program around it (by which point all the usual suspects are involved).

      Now it used to be that universities themselves funded research, and government scientists used to have broad authority to assign funding, and defense contractors had to spend 15% of their budgets on exploratory research, and we didn't have postdocs... To change things back requires a lot.

    • by m00sh (2538182)

      So ... let's say you're on a funding panel, with 120 grant proposals in front of you, and you have to recommend twenty of them as top priorities for funding. The rest of them are going to go without, because that's all the money you have to allocate. Thirty of those proposals are from established, productive researchers with track records of transformative discoveries. Another thirty are from promising young researchers with first-rate pedigrees looking for their first grants to launch careers that may span decades. Thirty are from mediocre old guys nearing retirement who have been in the funding pipeline forever, and have been getting grants mostly by inertia. Thirty are semi-coherent ravings from people who display very little comprehension of the existing literature or of the basic parameters of the field. Now find the "mavericks". You have to have a ranked list by tomorrow afternoon.

      What is on the actual grant paper is more of a formality. The grant receipts are already semi-consciously selected.

      The categories that you are placing their proposals are essentially the researchers themselves and not the grant proposals.

      The grants go to the people who act like they deserve the grant, whether they do or not is another story.

      If you want grants, you don't work on writing a kickass grant proposal. You work on building your contacts, being publicly viewable in conferences and activities a

    • by Poorcku (831174)

      Absolutely true, but it does not explain everything. Talking as a psychologist, I can unfortunately report that this letter has some merit to it, and I can back it up with at least an example: Zimbardo's prison experiment regarding the psychological effects of being a prisoner and a prison guard have deeply changed the way we perceive group dynamics, in-group vs out-group processes and so on.

      It is however impossible to replicate it, or do derivative work because the ethics guide of the APA forbid such tre

      • by u38cg (607297)
        You seriously want to repeat Zimbardo's prison experiment and want to get rid of ethics comittees to do it? I suggest you rethink your research interests, and possibly spend some time improving your scientific ethics.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "When you speak of scientific mavericks, you might look directly at Improbable Research's annual Ig Nobel awards which recognize the arguably leading edge of maverick scientific work."

    What we need is more people like Richard Feynman who are willing to tell it like it is, and press on with simple powerful stuff.

  • by hax4bux (209237) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @10:00PM (#46530331)

    Seriously. Hardware these days is awesome and cheap. Any language you could want is freely available. Tools are mighty. The entry barriers to CompSci research have never been lower. If you are truly gifted, then by all means hack away.

    Look at AI (a broad topic, but please keep reading). I was at a conference where they said over half the published research is an AI topic and it has been this way for decades. What is the result of all this brainpower? Clearly the research institutions are not bringing the game. I believe someone working in their bedroom has as much chance of discovering a breakthrough as a funded researcher.

    Perhaps grant committees should give way to something like kick starter...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That will never work. The only way one could get funding with a kick-starter-style popularity contest would be for the development of robot prostitutes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For AI and other pursuits where companies have a clear incentive to invest it can indeed be argued that the academic institution have not delivered on their promises, but I believe there are many areas where academics can be useful. For example, proving the validity of some algorithms. Not useful enough? How about building fast numerical libraries? Perhaps the best known and most widely used, FFTW, is to my understanding an academic project, and Sandia uses public monies to fund many others.

    • What's the results of AI research? There's been a tremendous amount of progress over the years. One thing to remember is that AI is the study of what we don't know how to make computers do. Once we know how to do something, it's no longer AI.

      What the guy in the bedroom can do is come up with some new insight that cuts through nonessential crap. There are fields this might possibly work in, but for most AI stuff it's going to take a lot more than one new insight. AI problems are inherently messy. Th

  • Unfortunately no one wants to invest in anything as we (as a society) have become too risk averse. I blame the lawyers and their cabal for this one. How do we get out of this? By providing a means to fund risk.

    Goes something like this... you write up a business proposal for something you would like to do. It could be for an invention, basic, applied or theoretical research. The Gov't provides you with a research grant with a small string... they get a percentage of the take (or your income) for 10 year

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Small Business Innovative Research program is pretty close to what you've described..

      100k awards for Phase 1
      1M for Phase 2

      You get to keep the IP, etc.

  • AGM 65 maverick guided missiles?

    I think the marines and navy can also use them, and you can put them on a AH64 apache for the army.

    James Garner was not available to comment

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @11:09PM (#46530733) Homepage Journal
    When was US science great?
    1920's? 1930's? 1950's? 1960's?
    Over every decade stories can be found to show amazing advancements by skilled US scientists working alone or as part of their employment.
    You also see great slowness, monopolies, cartels, red tape, lack of basic funding stopping the advancement on evolutionary or revolutionary ideas or just not keeping up.
    Retooling was no fun and the contracts where politically safe.
    From early radar, jet engines, guidance systems, computing, cryptography, heavy engineering the US was often playing catch up to under funded experts in other countries or new ideas within the USA.
    The massive jump seems to have been 1940's 50's funding of science and education with an influx of German 'experts' and other experts post WW2. That allowed the US to jump ahead and keep the skills going thanks to very well educated later generations. Constant educational testing guided wealthy and poor college scholarships students to the military industrial complex public and private mil,gov sector opportunities.
    A huge supply of US raw material, smart US staff, support of new ideas and never ending US contracts or gov funding. Science was very safe and US education was well looked after.
    The propaganda value of the US been open for diverse arts, all science and religion was also well presented into the early 1990's.
    The magic of jobs for life and never ending science boondoggles stops when the private sectors finds it can use a 100% US front company with a long just in time supply line to other cheap parts of the world. Same end price and maintenance contract, lower production costs. The product is still the same, the US design is secure but fewer costly US jobs and less need for funding for science at the mid and low end.
    Over generations the lack of gov funding finally becomes apparent to the wider US science community.
    The science is now in the magic of gov paper work to ensure a 100% US front company gets the next contract, not in the actual made in the USA part.
    As long as the skill set exists to design and work on any given mil product over its life is ensured, everything else science related can be slowly defunded.
  • But if you challenge the "scientific consensus", then you'll be ridiculed, lose your funding, and will be kicked out of academia.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The average scientist with a Ph.D. still working under NIH or NSF funding makes $40000 a year as a post doc and $50000 as a staff scientist. That is if you are lucky enough to land a job. I've personally seen maybe 80% of my fellow Ph.D. graduates leave research all together because they can make more money in construction. Good luck with that faculty position. I've got more than 30 authored publications and no prospects because the competition requires a publication in journals like nature or science

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A few years back a similar letter was published by theoretical computer scientists decrying the lack of innovation. They went as far as to create a special conference for maverick new theory. It is called Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science and it has been running for five years and if you look at the accepted papers they look no different than those of a regular conference. At the end of the day, when confronted with a risky, novel idea that might or might not pan out and a solid, no-surprises-ther

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @04:27AM (#46531769)

    Scientists Publish Letter Saying, "We Need More Scientific Mavericks"

    I hope that one lone scientist publishes a response saying "we don't".....

  • "Valuing knowledge, we preposterize the idea and say everybody shall produce written research in order to live, and it shall be decreed a knowledge explosion."
  • Damn right. We need more mavericks and less pen-pushers!

    Scientists Publish Letter Saying

    Aww.

  • Google's 80/20 was for mavericks, but now it's gone. Why is that?

  • So can we expect more funding for people doubting Global Warming, then?

    Oh wait, no, that's DOGMA...we don't want 'mavericks' that question sacred cows. We want mavericks that challenge the Establishment in acceptable ways...

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      Getting funding for a satellite that can measure the effects of aerosols on global energy balance has been difficult. So, it would seem that the mavericks in that field are those trying to advance it, not the naysayers who wave around unsubstantiated fear, uncertainty and doubt.
      • by argStyopa (232550)

        That's complete bullshit.

        The US is perennially stupid when it comes to paying for any long-term investment, be it weather satellites or highways. The inability to fund that satellite has more to do with the general budget process than any sort of 'anti-global-warming' effort.

        If you're contending that "global warming" isn't the mainstream scientific dogma today, you're either not paying attention, you're grossly naive, or you're being nakedly disingenuous.

        • by mdsolar (1045926)
          Actually, another anti-maverick action was to remove the fist part on NASA's mission statement. You clearly don't get what maverick means. It does not mean contrarian or denier.
    • AGW is hardly dogma, any more than gravitational theory is dogma. There's plenty of research going on in climate science. (There's also different ideas about quantum mechanics and gravitation out there, FWIW.)

      The problem is that the planet has been warming up, and so the only way to question it is to toss accusations of fraud all over the place and try to malign those collecting data. People have studied the data afresh, and came up with the conclusion that global warming is happening. There are such

  • Open the libraries (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:36AM (#46532359) Homepage Journal
    Make the scientific literature available to all. The mavericks will emerge without any grant support.
  • Maverick's don't get hired.
    When they do, it's because their ideas maybe aren't so maverick-ish.
    Maverick's work at MacDo's to make ends meet, which means they must do research on their own time and dime.

    Stupid suggestion by the scientists. Basically egging others to 'take one for the team' ... before they're allowed on the team.

  • Feynman was a bit of a maverick; in somes ways a cultivated one. And at times -- Manhatten and the Challenger Inquiry -- a very useful one.

    But as a scientists Feynman was anything but a Maverick. His work was entirely mainstream, even his most original and innovative work, as theoretical physics was at the time in a radical phase. Personally Feynman may have been somewhat goofy. Professional he was very creative. But he was not a Maverick who ever seriously went against mainstream opinon; even his objections to String Theory were muted.

    The closest scientists who would qualify as Mavericks were the Quantum pioneers of the 1920s, Einstein with relativity, and possibly Micheal Faraday. You could also go back to Newton and Gelileo, but remember, for every one of these there are fifty Velikovsky's.

  • Fine line between Maverick and Crackpot. And for most of us it's really difficult to tell the difference. You really have to be committed to stand up as a Maverick!
  • And the focus on that.

    Because, like, "scientists" nowadays are really just over specialized technicians.

    Once upon a time a scientist could build his own lab equipment, which meant he actually comprehended what the equipment he used was and did and exactly how it functioned, probably including the history of it's development.

    The solution isn't to keep doing the same thing (groveling for grant money) that causes stagnation. That's the definition of insanity.
  • When you speak of scientific mavericks, you might look directly at Improbable Research's annual Ig Nobel awards which recognize the arguably leading edge of maverick scientific work

    If you're going to make that argument, then you've plainly never spent more than a few femtoseconds reading IR's documents. They're all about the strangenesses of normal science - in their own words, research that first makes you laugh then makes you think.

    They're not about "scientific mavericks", whatever they are,

    You'll note

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