gentleman scientist

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by sculptor, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    "Science is always problematic as an institution, and often valuable as a process."

    Darwin often expressed gratitude for being able to be a gentleman scientist with no need for institutional affiliation.

    Does institutional affiliation inevitable bastardize pure scientific inquiry?
     
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  3. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Define pure scientific inquiry.

    Define bastardisation.
     
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  5. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    I would not use the word "inevitable". I would say that in particular in periods which Kuhn would describe as normal science, problem solving inside an established paradigm, institutional affiliation is harmless. And sometimes even in revolutionary periods. For example, the development of quantum theory was more or less done by affiliated scientists. This seems possible if the crisis is obvious to everybody, even the affiliated scientists.

    And the non-affiliated scientists have also the problems that all they can reach is usually only what a single person can reach. Say, I would have a sufficient large number of open problems for I would say a whole institute for some years - all appropriate for a PhD thesis, with a quite good chance to solve them for the average student. But there is no such institute. Because my money is sufficient for me, but not for anybody else.
     
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This would a quotation from Roersch, the climate change sceptic, I take it. Right?

    So there may be an agenda here, under the surface. Yes?

    Be that as it may, I think it is foolish to pretend that any form of scientific enquiry can be totally free from prejudices. This is just as true of a self-funded individual as it is of any organisation. One of the reasons why it is important that science is a collective enterprise is to expose individual pieces of work to critical challenge. There are certainly fads and fashions in science and those swimming against the tide will always feel pressure. It is only the passage of time that enables a dispassionate assessment of scientific contributions to be made.

    So I do not think that institutional affiliation "bastardises" enquiry any more than the education, mindset, peer group and prejudices of any individual.
     
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  8. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Lindzen
     
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Ah OK, another climate change sceptic then, same agenda.

    It appears there are reasons to doubt Lindzen: https://www.theguardian.com/environ...n/06/climate-change-climate-change-scepticism
    though of course that does not in itself invalidate his observations about science.

    It certainly must be very frustrating to the climate sceptics to be part of such a small minority, so it is little wonder that they see the scientific establishment as ganging up against them. But if they appear to be wrong so often, as the link on Lindzen suggests he has been, then what can they expect?

    And may it not be equally likely, if not more so, that it is they who are the prejudiced ones?
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
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  10. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Scientific inquiry itself is inherently impure. That's why it requires replication, peer review, etc.
     
  11. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    In fact, it is not very frustrating to be part of a small minority. I'm alone, but not really frustrated. A little bit, ok, but not very much. And for a minority, however small, the reason for frustration is much less than for somebody who is really alone.

    In fact, it is part of the dream of every scientist to be, during the most happy time of his dreams, alone. Because what is the dream of a scientist? To invent something completely new. And the more the majority rejects the new idea, the better. Ok, part of the dream will be, usually, also the final acceptance by everybody, with Nobel prices and so on. But at the most important, most happy moment of his life, at the moment when he finds the new idea, and develops it, he is alone.

    Prejudiced or not is not the point. The point of the criticism of the institution named science is that it prevents the development of really new ideas, in favor of ideas corresponding to the established mainstream.
     
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  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that it can. Perhaps less so in science than in some of the other areas of intellectual life. One thing that can cause institutional intellectual life to wither is when it becomes excessively ideological and when adherence to a particular ideology becomes a precondition to participating in intellectual life. (Where I'm using 'ideological' to mean holding beliefs for other than purely epistemic reasons, e.g. political ideology, nationalist ideology, religious ideology, Marxist ideology...) I'm afraid that we are seeing more of that at the present time.

    I'm most familiar with the history of philosophy. In that area, we see the cutting edge of intellectual life move out of the medieval universities at the time of the Renaissance, and not really return until the 19th century. During much of that time, academic university philosophy in places like Britain was dominated by classicism, and in the Catholic universities especially, by Thomism (the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, more or less the official theological ideology of the Catholic church). So we see that the iconic names of early modern philosophy, people like Descartes, Locke, Leibniz and Hume, weren't typically university professors. They were most often men of affairs who corresponded with others like themselves and sometimes participated in intellectual 'salons', gathering places for intellectuals like themselves who discussed philosophy over dinner and drinks. It was the age of the independent scholar.

    I think that the history of the scientific revolution shows a similar trajectory. Out of the medieval universities to a whole host of independent scholars who actually pioneered the new science, then back into the new German-style research universities in the 19th century. Many of the iconic early names in science were independent scholars, part of informal groupings of like minded people such as the "invisible college" (that was one of the precursers of the Royal Society).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_College

    So the institutionalization of intellectual life is a relatively new thing in the Western world. That institutionalization brought with it the idea of entrance qualifications for intellectual work and the idea that anyone without the proper qualifications was an amateur as opposed to a professional. And that gap has continually widened over the years. Today in order to be a scientist, one needs a PhD, which implies something like 10 years of university training. Then the new PhD becomes a postdoc, which takes up more years.

    It's become harder and harder to break in. And that in turn has caused science to become more remote and distant from (and alien to) the general public. (The increasing mathematization of physics has also contributed to that.) So the average student doesn't see much value in majoring in science, it's so hard and takes so long and there's so little chance of landing a good tenure-track job. They choose business school instead. And where in the 18th century amateurs conducted scientific experiments at home after dinner, fewer and fewer people would even think of doing that today. Science is increasingly out of the reach of mortals.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
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  13. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    That is, of course, total nonsense since science is nothing but the pursuit of new ideas. Which of course, you recognized in the preceding paragraph.
     
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  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Question Schmelzer If I may...
    If you were a part of the affiliated scientific institution, do you believe your theory of ether would be any better accepted.
    Not being a smart arse, I genuinely would like to know what you think.
     
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  15. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    No difference. I was part of an affiliated scientific institution many years, and even if it was tolerated that I spend some time (but only some) on ether theory, it has not helped at all. In fact I have been able to publish my theories only after this.

    One can speculate if, after these publications, it could have been possible to do more in such an environment (say, start a small group doing ether theory). But I doubt.

    You mingle different things. What makes science useful for society as a whole is one thing. What scientists dream, what motivates them is another. And what institutionalized science can give is a third thing. They are different, very different, and in conflict with each other. And this thread is about this conflict.
     
  16. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Were you published in a respectable journal?
     
  17. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Foundations of Physics is imho the most respectable journal to publish something about the foundations of physics.

    There are, of course, mainstream journals which are considered much more prestigeous. But Phys. Rev. requires to pay for a publication - no problem if you have an affiliation, your institute will pay, but I will not even submit something to them.
     
  18. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Having some experience in the area of presenting a paper for publication may I ask if the op re gw being incorrect would have any chance of being published or moreover does the op re gw have any basis to be considered as offerring any scientific arguement.
    Is the author of the op re gw unrealistic in his dismissive approach in relation to what I would have thought as somewhat necessary.... . the inclusion of math.
    Would the fact the author is running a one man show cause difficulty in getting his idea published.

    This thread
    http://www.sciforums.com/threads/simple-geometric-proof-grs-gws-are-impossible.157012/
    Alex
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  19. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    About http://www.sciforums.com/threads/simple-geometric-proof-grs-gws-are-impossible.157012/
    I have tried but was unable to extract a reasonable scientific argument from the text.

    I have given him a fair chance, asked some questions, see http://www.sciforums.com/threads/si...gws-are-impossible.157012/page-2#post-3392161 He refused to answer, a strong indication that there is nothing worth to be considered. After he became aggressive, I have stopped the discussion.

    Certainly if presented in this form no journal would accept this. A reviewer should not try to identify some reasonable idea which could have been hidden in the text - or the text has a clear idea, and gives reasonable arguments, or it is not worth to be published.

    I have published already a lot of papers, all in a one man show, so, if the content is appropriate this is possible. I have to add that being close to the mainstream makes publication much easier.
     
  20. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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    Anyone with some actual grasp of the OP topic and developments in thread cross-linked to in #15 here, can freely decide who is telling the truth or lying, by reading through all the relevant posts, both before that given above, and subsequently. It's easy to come across as noble philosopher/scientist, but hypocrisy is also easy to spot by those alert to it.
    The pontifications of armchair crank critics here: http://www.sciforums.com/threads/why-do-cranks-get-angry.157019/
    was read with a mixture of disdain and amusement. No guesses as to original inspiration, despite the careful 'no names' policy adopted.
     
  21. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    I am worried that you may think I started the thread with you in mind but what you have missed is the way the god had been carrying on... It was mainly him I was thinking about but he was fepresentative of some others. The reason I was pointing out that you should not get angry etc was because of the bad taste the god had left.
    He never really explained anything, was condecending, insulting, no respect for anything, I could go on whereas yourgoodself listened when I asked a question and happy to bury the hatchet unlike the god. And you complain about the site here I think his disruptive abusive style has everyone ready to jump on anyone they see as similar. He is a pretender who constantly acts the fool who has nothing of interest to say. You clearly accept black holes, he did not, and I gatber you think ligo recorded something even if you dont agree with suchbeing what they say.
    The god thinks ligo is a con job.
    So maybe you can understand how many folk have become annoyed and ticked off.
    I look forward to your reply in the other thread because as I said I want to understand what you are really saying and how you are going to get your ideas published.
    I asked here about publishing sort of in an effort to help with how it is done.
    Alex
     
  22. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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    Understand I came into this thread solely to defend against an accusation in #16. So ok I accept you had someone else primarily in mind in that 'Why do cranks...' thread.
    Enough said. I'm fed up with this forum in general. Time to lay low, apart from dealing with any lingering *relevant* responses to current thread re GW's.
     
  23. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    I would encourage you not to give up as I feel somewhat responsible for some of the stress you may feel and maybe even the responces you gave to others. Working through your idea here may be helpful.
    In an effort to answer all that is thrown at you I expect your idea will stand taller, it may fall, but there is honour to be carried out on your shield.
    Maybe some rest.
    Alex
     

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