Jun 21, 2011

Science and the grant dilemma


Long time ago, when I was still a young curious boy who gazes in all the creatures passionately, the term “Scientist” has another meaning to me. It designates a positive package of passion, curiosity, and admirable altruistic group of people that are devoting their life to find the “unknowns” and help the progress of human nature. 

All these positive views, direct me to pursue my educational, and consequently professional, life toward science.  I still remember how I reasoned (this is one thin I was very good at it) and convinced my family and friends about the importance of science and working in scientific field. I was following my dreams and beliefs about science and try to integrate in scientific world as much as possible. I have left Iran to get closer to the research frontiers and to improve and update my skills. I experienced the scientific society and research labs in Iran, Netherlands, France and Canada. 

It is difficult to confess, but I would like to say that I don’t feel the same about the science and scientific society. I am sorry to admit that the further I advance the more I comprehend the mafia like situation in science. Now I think there is not much difference between scientific field and business. The main distinction is that in science we follow the same rules as business but with hypocrisy. 

The real world of science is the empire of the administrations and grant companies.  To win a grant you should weather be part of the gang, or wait forever and suffer from failing again and again. It is better to forget the grand roster and instructions. 

The first and the most important choice and criteria is that, whom do you know in the juries? The myth of science and childhood heroes like Luis Pasture and Charles Darwin is like classic literature of old Greece. Nowadays, the wisdom of science downgrade to information and science reduced to new methods to make more money.  

Pure science is mostly rejected follow by a “so what?”.   The research budget is cut more and more in favor of the importance of army and defense ministry. Instead of neutral professional scientific officers that have nothing to do but evaluating the applications, “Giant” godfather scientists mostly govern the grant institutions in which weather their conflict of interests doesn't allow them to look at the grants objectively and stop the monopoly of science or they are too busy to go through the applications profoundly, for free. 

Therefore, young researchers can hardly scape from this domination and building a career in this situation became arduous and dreadful.

I think in this way with low budgets and monopolies in scientific world, it is better to close the pure science department in universities or reduce the number of students in these fields to open up more places for business students. I know situation is worse in social sciences and art. The whole world shifts to the celebrity world and business. That is why the further we go the more uneducated society we have. People prefer to watch and read cheesy movies and books and listen to superficial nonsense music that has had a good marketing.

The other thing that goes on my nerves is that nobody from the scientific society, protest actively against the whole situation. We just accept the situation and nagging for each other. 

This is not a proper approach and we cannot change anything in this way, at least not compatible with scientific philosophies. I would like to brainstorm more about this situation, what should we do and what can we do. 

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