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Some people might decide to do their research in the open... Once you get tenure, why not?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 07:29:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would recommend you a lecture by William Black (the Savings and Loans guy) regarding the competition between good and bad behavior in an environment which is permissive to bad behavior. Bad behavior outcompetes and exterminates good behavior.

Let me give an example:
Imagine that you are a serious researcher in epidemiology. You will find it unacceptable to publish a paper on "eradicating disease X in Y years", as it will be unrealistic and BS. You will maybe work in more realistic control measures. Something a bit more obscure than "total eradication".
The other gal/guy that competes with you, will do a paper on "eradicating the disease".
Which one will be published in a better journal, attract more funding, get you in with the people who have decision power?
In a serious environment the second person would be ridiculed. But in an environment as it is today, the second person will progress and the first (with their "irrelevant" topics) will perish.

Another example:
If I find a problem in the work of a colleague, and tell the colleague, what will be his/her answer? In a serious environment the colleague will rush to the publication where the wrong work was published and issue a correction or a retraction. In today's environment it will probably ignore your comment and will become your ENEMY if you make it public.

This being said I can find many cases where people still behave in a moral way, but it is not clear that it is the rule.

Be serious and perish.
[Not fair to all areas]

by t-------------- on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 07:45:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gresham's law...

Oh, I am aware of the two examples you cite. I tend not to associate with people who don't consider both unconscionable. We may not get far (I have actually quit academia) but at least we still have fun talking about science.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 07:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The extensions of Gresham's law into analysis of public behavior is completely appropos, IMO. The real finds are areas where it DOESN'T apply. I have been seeing this phenomenon in my checkered career since the late '70s and the counterfeit always seems to become "the coin of the realm" right up to the point of massive fail. Then the response is to look away, to say "who could have known?" or both.

The Peter Principle is an enabling corollary of the social application of Gresham's Law and the combined effect of these two principles largely accounts for what I have called "institutional incompetence", which is where we have many, even a considerable majority, of able people with good intentions yet the structure and function of the institution itself reliably leads to failed results.

I do not know if "workplace democracy" and "social justice" can mitigate this phenomena, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that organizations that adopt open and collaborative approaches and encourage creativity can be more productive. My own sense is that social hierarchy is the real poison. And that is my inner anarchist speaking.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 12:18:55 PM EST
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Once you get tenure, why not?

Aside from the ever fewer genuinely tenured positions, it doesn't quite stop with tenure. You still have to secure funding for postdocs, ph.d.s, etc.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 at 03:34:18 PM EST
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