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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.
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]
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
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."
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.
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
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