From elite Prometheanism to free research | The Prince Arthur Herald
lterrat's bookmarks 2017-03-11
"Furthermore, physics and chemistry maintained an 'aristocratic' style, whatever the social origins of its practitioners, and empirical, 'apolitical' execution, even if a few individual physicists were Marxists, liberals, or conservatives outside their labs. Biological studies have not been like that at all, mostly drawing students already indoctrinated in environmentalism, reliably progressive, and consciously or unconsciously subscribing to 'scientism' as a post-Judeo-Christian creed, often filled with accusatory zeal about the capitalist causes of climate change.
This change has gone along with proliferating conflicts and difficulties in the academic organization of science in academia. Achievement, once rewarded mainly with elite status, is now seen, in American entrepreneurial style, as having potentialities for making big money for researchers, universities, businesses, or all three. Priority quarrels, multiple duplications, bare-knuckle competition, increased instances of outright fraud, and squads of arriving lawyers have all now been part of the scene in science for several decades.
It is therefore not surprising that many scientists and institutions now hope to revivify their enterprises by returning to the 'open' co-operative research model idealized from the 17th century to the first decades of the 20th. As Principal Fortier clearly realizes, it is a large gamble, with a possible large payoff. Still, the 1990s saw not only the end of elite Prometheanism, but the revival of nationalist protectionism. In Trump’s world, open science may have unwelcome implications for 'America First' commercial exploitation. McGill may find itself playing Ariel to this new Caliban, for once giving student politicians something of importance to argue about."