26
Oct
09

On air: Is there too much pressure on scientists ?

stem cell Here’s the story of the disgraced cloning hwangwoosuk_apscientist Hwang Woo-suk.

Before he was found out, he’d raised false hopes of finding cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s..

He was at one stage a national hero.

I’m not suggesting he did it because of pressure at all, but it does show the tremendous store – and hope -we place on science without (and i’m happy to include myself here) necessarily understanding it.

Here’s a sample of some of the stories that have been incredibly popular on news sites around the world in this last week or so :

womb

* Womb transplants could take place within 2 years…

* A review of an  HIV vaccine in Thailand concludes it shows real signs of a protective effect….hiv vaccine

* Will enough people in the U.S get the swine flu vaccination ? 

and it’s not just health stories :

* a new paint to thwart a chemical attack…

*the Hadron Collider being “sabotaged from the future

piltdownAnd here’s an article from a couple of years ago talking about the drive to get funding puts pressure on scientists to hoax…

and another more recently..

Is there too much pressure put on scientists by a public hungry for solutions to their problems?

What about the media ? Do the media was easily digestible ‘top lines’ to stories that don’t reflect scientific complexities?

Why are we so bad at the “appliance of science ” ? And why don’t we trust it enough when it comes to conspiracy theories ?  As this column points out, why is there so much “Bad Science ” ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*


52 Responses to “On air: Is there too much pressure on scientists ?”


  1. 1 Robert
    October 26, 2009 at 15:16

    Yes there is, and this is in part because of the way science is presented via the media to the public.

    Science and engineering have very specific terminology, often to confer the degree of uncertainty in the work. The general public often don’t understand this terminology nor the subtly of the language employed. The media then package this up into a 2 min tv slot and dumb it down. Hence something like a preliminary review which shows promising indications for a drug becomes “the cure for XYZ ” has been found.

  2. 2 Halima
    October 26, 2009 at 15:23

    It is not that scientists are under too much pressure from the public, it is more a question of the public being far too ignorant of science, and seeing it as a sort of “magic”. The public wants miracles from its wizards. This is the sort of thing that causes pressure, on scientists. Rather there should perhaps be more pressure on opinion makers to be educated, at least basically, in what they are talking about.
    Robert, I agree with your completely.

  3. 3 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    October 26, 2009 at 15:24

    While the public has a tendency to accept anything that a person wearing a lab coat says, the Scientific Community has a peer review process which will catch out bad (or fake) experiments. Every scientist should know that and they cannot publish bad results ‘under pressure’ – their peers will shoot them down.

    The cloning issue is only an embarrassment to the scientist concerned (and the few who sang his praises prematurely). About 20 years ago another bogus scientific ‘breakthrough’ was caught out – remember Fleischmann and Pons and their Cold Fusion? Occasionally these mistakes have far more disastrous effects if not detected in time – you may recall the thalidomide issue or the sad case of the shoe-size measuring device which subjected the public to excessive amounts of radiation.

    It does not matter how much pressure the public (or worse, the press!!) exerts on the scientists. They are bound by the rules of their profession to be methodical and truthful.

    Fortunately for the public, scientists catch each other out – which is far more than you can say about another group of pseudo-experts otherwise known as bankers who keep their work out of view of both their peers and the public, until the house burns down and they have to be bailed out by the same public.

  4. October 26, 2009 at 15:39

    I agree with Robert’s points. Also, it’s a shame that the same people who are so eager to see science solve their problems turn around and bash science whenever it tells them something they don’t want to hear. People who can’t even tell you how a vaccine works will only too happily inform you that global warming is lie and that the world is only 6000 years old. (Gallup’s poll back in February 2009 stated that only 39% of the U.S. and only 50% of Britons “believe” in evolution.) That’s not to say that science can solve all our problems and that it doesn’t sometimes create new ethical questions, but this contradiction-fueled relationship is exasperating to those of us who are intelligent and recognize that science can do great things for us if only we’d *really* give it a chance.

  5. 5 Gary Paudler
    October 26, 2009 at 15:39

    No there is not. Most of the public doesn’t give a rat’s double-blind, repeatably-studied posterior about science, only trusting that it will save them from having to eat better and exercise. The media – aside from the science media that nobody reads – is only interested in clones and space travel and anti-aging, and in academia the external push is only for funding and nothing is ever expected to be commercializable for “5 to 10 years” as virtually every press release says, as if monetization is the only validation for good science. It is as correct to say that society’s pressure led a scientist to falsify research as it is to say that society’s pressure caused a man to rob a bank – or much more likely; a bank to rob a man. There are ethical scientists – the vast majority – who wouldn’t release false findings under any circumstances and there are people of flexible ethics in all walks of life who think they need, and are entitled to, something for nothing.

  6. October 26, 2009 at 15:44

    The world safety is now primarily in the hands of scientists as it’s their work that shapes the world we live in. They have to race against time, especially when it comes to diseases.

    But scientists should have transparent approach to their work through sincere mutual cooperation and not by inflating their financial needs for a project or by being manipulated by corporations for commercial success.

    Scientists are human beings. They needn’t work beyond their capacity to create fake solutions or to spread beliefs that can be harmful to people. When science is carried out for its own sake and for general interest, scientist can work at ease. The fear is when scientific findings increasingly prove to be a hoax, thus scientists become just illusionists, selling dreams and not tangible facts.

  7. 7 Tom K in Mpls
    October 26, 2009 at 15:45

    Most of the problems we are seeing are a direct fault of money. Hey, I’m a capitalist and love the application. But as I said before, nothing is perfect. The three posts above mine are correct, different aspects.

    It takes money to research. It takes the promise of results to get the money. Then the media hears it and pushes it. It brings more money and more pressure. This leads much money in a boom-or-bust setting leads to both scams and big bad decisions.

    Add to that, science is as more about learning what to ask than getting answers. And people don’t realize this.

  8. 8 vijay k pillai
    October 26, 2009 at 15:49

    Traditional Engineering is not the same as present day terms like genetic engineering or software engineering or tree surgeon for that matter. But genetic engineeing and software engineering are not engineering. They are technologies arisen out of fundametal advances in science to exploit the market for drung and computers to ebcome rich.
    Scientists are also motivated buy greedy drug companies toe exploit the brilliant scientists for their future income by supporitng money for reseaerch and he poor scientists are under presure to announce the breakthrough half baked in the hope that that they get here first and the nobel prize to come. it can some times involve huge risk to their reputation as well as their institutions.

  9. 9 Mike in Seattle
    October 26, 2009 at 15:50

    This is such a complicated issue, especially here in the United States. I have a background in science (I work in food safety though, kind of boring I’ll admit) and I’ve constantly had to fight against anti-science attitudes from those who feel that science goes against their religious beliefs or that what scientists do “isn’t natural”.

    Reporting on science here in the states doesn’t help much either. The typical science story glosses over important details and uncertainties with the attitude of, “trust me, you wouldn’t understand it so we’re not going to tell you”. Combined with the practice of always finding “two sides” to every story and representing the extremes without analysis, I can see why the layperson would end up confused.

    Ultimately, I also feel that scientists need to learn how to discuss technical topics to the lay audience. It’s not the difficult if one has to practice but there is an attitude among many I’ve worked with in school that the lay audience “just won’t understand” or they’re “too dumb”. Not only is it a horrible attitude to have, it’s simply wrong. We need more folks like PBS’s Neil deGrasse Tyson who can bring the information to the public without dumbing it down.

  10. 10 Anthony
    October 26, 2009 at 15:58

    Yup. That’s the same reason that I really don’t believe that man has caused global warming.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  11. October 26, 2009 at 16:04

    There are some scientists under pressure to deliver researches and results with immediate effects. However there are many scientific projects that are considered as a a waste of public money, like space exploration.

    Scientific discoveries have no limit. For space, the sky is the limit. But utility should be prime. Scientific research should have a list of priorities that serve those in need, especially those suffering from chronic diseases and starvation.

    It’s better to develop a seed that can feed the world than develop a bomb that sets everything ablaze with maximum damage.

  12. 12 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    October 26, 2009 at 16:17

    Yes,i think there’s more & have ever been more pressure on scientists because new diseases have always been on increase with no breakthrough of a new drug yet the world politicians always do focus on buying more weaponry & building a Nuclear reactors to produce atomic bombs.

    The World will be safe-enough when its has more drugs than arms

  13. 13 Tamatoa, Zurich
    October 26, 2009 at 16:21

    Yes, there is too much pressure on scientists. Science provides knowledge. Knowledge translates in to power and power is used to make money. And whenever there is money involved there is pressure because greedy people want more money and power.
    They only use scientists to perpetuate knowledge that will solidify their power and their income. Why should people in power order studies that try to find out why the working poor can’t improve their living standard? Why should pharmaceuticals fund studies that develop medicine that can help people who can’t pay for it anyway? It won’t make sense to the stock-holders since they want to make more money. And as everywhere if you can’t deliver you lose your income.
    It’s naive to think that scientist operate with the sole purpose to serve humanity as a whole. I think science is similar to religion. It provides knowledge that determine the framework of our actions. Religion provides spiritual insights and science provides knowledge on the physical/psychological realm. I don’ think one can live without the other. We need spiritual insight to best apply scientific knowledge to help the whole of humanity and vice versa.

  14. October 26, 2009 at 16:23

    GUEST UPDATE:
    Dr. David Whitehouse, author and scientist, will be on the programme between 1800-1900 GMT. He says scientists gain their reputations from what they have published. This desire for publicity can affect the science.

  15. 15 gary
    October 26, 2009 at 16:23

    Scientists are curious people, but sometimes they are also greedy and unwise. As ever, it is best to place one’s faith in knowledge, because ignorance has no positive results. Please continue to have faith in science and to reserve the title of scientist for those who actually increase humankind’s knowledge. By this simple measure Mr. Huang Woo-suk does not qualify.
    g

  16. 16 John in Salem
    October 26, 2009 at 17:00

    I think that technology and scientific discovery are being woven into the fabric of our old mythologies instead of replacing them with empirical knowledge as we expect them to do.
    The scientist is the new Hero answering the call to adventure and it’s always been a thankless job. Our faith in his discipline makes us want to believe that THIS time he will return from the underworld with the boon that will save us, but just as the heroes of the past were undone by their human fallibilities, so too are the heroes of today. Hubris, overconfidence and all the weaknesses of the flesh play the roles they always have and we, wrapped in our security blanket of Reason, are simply too much a part of the story to know when our strings are being pulled.

  17. 17 patti in cape coral
    October 26, 2009 at 17:03

    I have to agree that a lot of the pressure is created by the need for funding and needing to promise results to get the funding.

  18. 18 Jerry Cordaro Cleveland OH
    October 26, 2009 at 17:35

    Too many people get their ideas about science from novies and TV – the scientist accomplishes the impossible in 30-45, usually without getting their hair messed up. So people get upset when they can’t get swine flu shots (not realizing that it takes months to make) and buy into the latest miracle cures for diseases that scientists are years away from understanding.

  19. 19 Jens
    October 26, 2009 at 17:37

    let’s face it there are two different levels of science. One is the academic one and the other is the industrial one. nowadays the academics have been forced to wake-up to that medical research should lead to a drug ultimatly. it is called transitional research. as a result there is more and more cooperation between industry and academia. i know both sides and out of experiance trust me it is industry that actually producess results. a lot of academics have their pet topics, which a often not too relevant to a cure.

  20. 20 viola
    October 26, 2009 at 17:52

    Everybody in the whole world is under some kind of pressure. Pressure doesn’t cause cheating. Personal moral failings do. Blaming pressures for wrong-doing gives everyone a free pass. Don’t give out the free pass to everybody but at the same time understand this issue and apply lessons learned to your own life. It works way better than going to jail or losing a job to learn it.

    The pressure is to publish findings before someone else does and thereby gets all the credit and financial incentives for something you may have been working on for years. If you are a scientist only or primarily for the money and prestige, that kind of pressure could cause you to cheat.

    Academics and scientists are just as susceptible to what are commonly known as the seven deadly sins as everyone else is.

  21. October 26, 2009 at 17:54

    There IS a great deal of pressure on all researchers to arrive at a positive conclusion to all of their research, especially those doing general research, something that’s becoming rare as hen’s teeth. It’s a feat that is impossible to achieve. But it’s NOT just from the press and public. It’s called “Publish or Perish” in the academic world, and a result of “Well, THAT didn’t work…” is NOT an acceptable conclusion no matter who pays a scientist. As mouthed by the inimitable Bill Murray in the film “Ghostbusters”, “We CAN’T lose our funding! We’ll have to go out into the real world! We’ll never make it! They expect RESULTS out there!”

  22. 22 Chintan in Houston
    October 26, 2009 at 18:09

    It is known as accountability, you are given money and resources and you are expected to yield results. That still does not give them an excuse to fake their findings, thats unacceptable.

  23. 23 Brian Roller
    October 26, 2009 at 18:10

    As a scientist myself, I never read an article and assume that it is actually what the media says it is. They tend to blow things out of proportion.

    The pressure on scientists comes from the idea that applied research is for some reason more important than “pure” research. Although to the layman it may seem that pure researchers are just toiling away at intellectual curiosity, the reality is that they are laying the foundation for the future of applied research that medicine and engineering use to make our world a better place. I am currently struggling to write a convincing grant because I can’t think of a really solid application for the specific domain of vision research that I work in.

  24. October 26, 2009 at 18:12

    What mad pursuit?
    said Nobel winner Dr Francis Crick. He meant it.

  25. October 26, 2009 at 18:12

    Scientists and the pressure to deliver. It is a glaire that scientists are under immense pressure to provide solutions for the numerous unsolved problems of nature. The HIV-AIDS, Swine amongst others are waging serious calamity on human health. Also, many scientific researches required fundings and or are funded heavily due to the laborious nature of these scientific and genetic engineering programs. Certainly, these institutions are on timeline to deliver and therefore exerts untold pressure of the researchers/scientists to produce adequately.

  26. 26 Brian Roller
    October 26, 2009 at 18:14

    As a scientist, I would appreciate it if your commentators would differentiate between scientists working for drug companies and universities. The pressures are different, and academic scientists (although under a lot of pressure) are not under the same pressure to show that an idea (such as a new drug) works. I listen to this conversation and have to step back and differentiate between the two.

  27. 27 Jens
    October 26, 2009 at 18:16

    well one might want to look at the pressures in science. 15 years ago about 30% of writen grants were funded in infectiouse diseases. during the last 3 years the percentage has dropped to 3-5%. this should clearly illustrate how hard it is to get funding. to get funding you need to be a recoginzed capacity in your field, ie have to have published regularly in journals with high impact factors. this is only possible if you have money for people, which you cannot get…i have worked with many scientists who have streched thee truth and each time have refused to have my name attached to their work. you can only build a solid house on a solid fundation, not on scientific quicksand.

    • 28 Tom K in Mpls
      October 26, 2009 at 18:24

      Part of this is that all biological science seems to come down to proteins, and then genetics. Using genetics, you can create the protein that can block infectious diseases. You could also create ‘natural’ resistance. It is not a case of priorities, we have finally learned the right questions to ask.

  28. October 26, 2009 at 18:19

    Scientists can be under pressure if they work for a commercial enterprise,also,to get there before someone else does,and to get their name recognised in the scientific world. The scientific graveyard is full up,of failed and false science. Have faith in science,because science will unfrock the forgers and falsehoods of science.

  29. 30 margaret
    October 26, 2009 at 18:33

    I think it depends on your viewpoint. It’s one thing to publish or perish. But I’m quite concerned about 1. the entities funding science / research etc. and what agendas they might have and how they direct funding 2. the politicization of science in the USA for good or ill 3. the lack of Johnny in the USA to be able to read let alone be a math or science whiz, especially since we have to compete in a global market. Certainly we have large cohorts of people in the USA who think dinosaurs and humans were comfortably coexisting. It bodes poorly for the future of the US if we continue on our current trajectory.

  30. 31 Jens
    October 26, 2009 at 18:34

    Tom K,

    you are little ahead. confereing resistance to a infectiouse disease is only possible if you have the gen that does so. we are still a bit away from genetically engineering a resistance gene…..

    David I have seen many good scientist leaving science because they could not deal with the viciouseness of their collegues. i left academia because i was sick and tired of the self glorification and ruthless attitued of my peers. working in industry now I work with a team not against others. i am trying to establish the gentle scientis by teaching all my students you do not need to be an egomanic to succed

  31. 33 Alex J
    October 26, 2009 at 18:44

    Obviously the scientific process isn’t perfect in any field, but it still seems true that notoriety can come from novelty and falsification. Controversy sells, and that is why some media outlets also feel pressured to write articles based on fringe science or misinterpreted analysis, in the name of balance. One positive note is that more researchers are making raw data available on the internet, and secondary assessment processes are helpful in weeding out bad science, at least in the higher-profile fields.

  32. 34 Toshi
    October 26, 2009 at 18:52

    This person wanted to recieve a lot of grands from International scentific institutions.

    Fraud over stem cell decreased the motivation of scientist after the discovering the new fundamental medicational technique such as finding Induced pluripotent stem cells.

    This cell was discovered by Dr.Yamanaka. According to him, he didnt feel satisfied or jump up because he needed to prove it on a journal paper to make sure the evidence is. and other point he cared about was that he was from Asia as well. the atomospher of the conference where he declared the finding was tended to suspect according to TV programme..

    He knew all about research !
    The oppoent, or loser of Dr Yamanaka said nearly that “the person who discovered the unique or extraordinary cell AT FIRST could grab the all research grants.”

    money is collected to leading scientist. leading scientist needs to show journal paper. He did it with fabrication…

  33. October 26, 2009 at 18:53

    Hello,

    I don’t know if there is “too much pressure”, but there is not enough other pressure other then monetary. When it comes to the “products of science” (i.e. drugs, policies, foods, ect.) the perception of the public is completely manipulated by marketing and the one who puts the most money into it. I hate to say it, but if just today, with all of our technology and advancements, somebody asserted that the world was round; it would still take 100 years to get people to believe it. Too many people would have a financial stake in the world being flat to let such damming evidence become generally accepted.

  34. 36 Alex J
    October 26, 2009 at 18:59

    I should clarify that by falsification, I mean finding flaws in other researcher’s work and putting forth alternative analyses. And Anthony, the cumulative human influence on climate has been established by decades of independently replicated and re-assessed research. You’d think by now someone would have found serious fault and received plenty of attention for it, AND successfully had their findings vetted rather than relegated to pseudo-scientific blogs.

  35. 37 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    October 26, 2009 at 19:08

    I wouldn’t worry about “Bad science.” The whole point of true scientific inquiry is that it is self-correcting, as the exposure of the cloning fraud demonstrates. It’s only when politics, religion and large amounts of money come into the picture that science apears to falter.

    But it doesn’t REALLY falter. Facts are facts, and true self-correcting science will win through in the end.

  36. 38 carlyle
    October 26, 2009 at 19:09

    we pressure scientist to find a answer for evry thing instead of leaning on god
    so u will find those will lie to get funding

  37. 39 Ian Melhado Ph.D
    October 26, 2009 at 19:22

    The pressure on scientists is so high it cannot be described. Your current interviewees are actually not in the trenches themselves.
    It is the graduate students, and especially the post-doctoral fellows who are under intense almost unbearable pressure to succeed, otherwise 10-15 years of long hours, studies and underpay will go unrewarded.
    The current system of development of scientists can only be described as sanctioned slavery where students must work extremely long hours and complete with other students. Post-doctoral fellows must not only compete with other post-docs but their own students in the lab and their own bosses to get first or second authorship on papers.
    It is my own personal opinion that the amount of soft fraud in published papers is extremely high because of this.
    I’m sorry but after a lifetime in science in many countries this the darker side of science that I see.

  38. 40 Bert
    October 26, 2009 at 19:25

    It does matter, Madeleine, when science is misrepresented by the press. Those who fund science are often informed by the press at least as much as they are informed directly by the scientists.

    It should be absolutely obvious that much or even MOST basic research will not meet up with success, and especially not within a predictable time frame. It’s not like building a house, where the steps are known ahead of time.

    So that hype and nonsense from the news media can only confuse the innocent, with consequent bad repercussions on research funding.

  39. October 26, 2009 at 19:28

    evry scientist pressure them selves because they want to go in history books so they lie we dont pressure them they pressure our tax dollars

  40. 42 John in Salem
    October 26, 2009 at 19:28

    I’d just like to add… Of all the thousands of journalists writing articles and the millions of people who discuss those articles there is almost always a total lack of understanding of what “the scientific method” of finding truth actually is, and most scientists seem oblivious to what that ignorance costs them in terms of public support.

  41. October 26, 2009 at 20:04

    Having listened to the programme,it would seem that we need scientists who love science,for the sake of science,as in times of old. Oh! happy days.

  42. 44 Ian Melhado Ph.D
    October 26, 2009 at 20:41

    I would have to strongly disagree with carlyle. Not every scientist wants to go into the history books. The vast majority of scientists just want to be near the cutting edge of their field, have a feeling that they contributed to furthering that cutting edge and be able to tell their story to their peers through publications and presenting at conferences.
    And as for pressuring your tax dollars, I dare you to go and find out how many pennies out of every tax dollar spent on research actually finds its way to the laboratory bench and how much is shaved off by the various levels of government and university administration. I think you’ll be surprised at proportion of every tax dollar that is not spent on research but is actually spent on the seemingly laborious and cutting edge activity of “dividing up” the research dollars.

  43. 45 Jens
    October 26, 2009 at 21:03

    carylel,
    i have been doing science for over 20 years, not because i wanted to be famouse, but because i wanted to find a cure. i worked onseveral drugs, one of them succesfull, but you will never hear the names of the people having worked on it.

    Bert, people who decide the funding are scientist who are very often on the top of their game. they do not read the media to decide upon whom funding will be bestowed. just check out who is the head of the NIH

  44. October 27, 2009 at 03:14

    Earlier Scientists did things in their own way. Now even the scientific field is getting commercialized & there is definitely pressure on scientists.
    A good scientist waits to get the results in the proper way. It takes several years & failures before any result could be obtained. Thomas Alva Edison had 999 failures before he could succeed. The same can happen to any scientist. If you put pressure on a scientist, the natural process of scientific discovery or invention gets affected. Scientists too are human beings & if they are mentally weak, they too
    are forced to take the short cuts & as a result, the result will be catastrophic! Even the discoveries are not being used properly- for eg., medicines for infectious diseasese are being misused with the result that microbes are getting drug resistant. And there is more pressure on scientists to get new drugs. There is a limit to the discovery process & scientists are not Gods!
    Please allow the scientists to work in the natural way. Don’t put pressure on them
    & wait till proper results could be obtained. And please learn completely about the way to use scientific inventions & discoveries so that maximum & long term benefits could be obtained from them. And please don’t commercialize science.
    Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa

  45. 47 Tan Boon Tee
    October 27, 2009 at 04:04

    Hwang is indicted for his unethical practices, having been in disgrace for four years.

    A national hero turned villain, he paid a very heavy price for being too anxious to gain fame promptly, apart from being under immense pressure to produce result for fear of losing his lucrative sponsorship.

    Such is a scientist’s life.

  46. 48 scmehta
    October 27, 2009 at 07:16

    The general-public has never been HUNGRY for solutions to their maladies, including diseases; rather, It’s the special-public, or the moneyed/influential people, who are mostly hungry and craving for a VERY long and a VERY healthy life. And yes, there also are some NAME & FAME HUNGRY scientists, who work and research to serve (by hook or crook) their own vested interests than the health concerns of the genera-public or common/ordinary people.

  47. 49 Chuksagwu
    October 27, 2009 at 08:50

    As long as the world is plauged by deadly diseases scientists would always be under pressure to find solutions.This pressure however does not qustify dishonest claims like that made by woo-suk. It is sad that he messed up a brilliant career. Here lies a lesson for us all.

  48. 50 T
    October 27, 2009 at 15:23

    In some cases, maybe there is. Especially if a corporation funds a lot of their research. And then there’s pressure to falsify papers in scientific journals. All to get the fame and fortune of winning some intl prize.

  49. 51 Dennis Junior
    October 27, 2009 at 17:00

    **On air: Is there too much pressure on scientists ?**

    Yes, Mark…there’s much pressure on scientists to make their conclusions on the bases relevant to the winds of the day…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  50. 52 Jasmine, Singapore
    October 28, 2009 at 20:12

    What a fascinating thought. I think that science and scientists are many things — firstly, the clinical, advanced, “science for science’s sake” kind of exploration; secondly, industrial, practical, applied science; and lastly the science we perceive and are made familiar by the media. Because of the complex interplay of funding, state support, growing competition between scientists of each field (due to increasing numbers), the fact that being a scientist is not merely a public servant but also a paid job, e.t.c, I think it is unsafe to generalise that it is the public that exerts pressure.

    Anyway, even if the public seems to be hungry for a solution, the truth is it rarely trickles down to the main bulk of the population. Fantastic cures are not always covered by insurance, great inventions are not always affordable. Our faith in science may be misplaced.

    Here’s a tangential thought: what really intrigues me is how scientists seem to be no different from artists — they further humanity’s knowledge, question, research, and create. Scientists for science’s sake seem to be as rare as artists for art’s sake — both are vulnerable to the pressures of a real job.


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