Thursday 18 February 2016

Ten minutes of honest, focused thought from a knowledgeable and intelligent bioscientist would make him a world expert

The title says it all.

From my experience of some three decades, I am able to state with confidence and without the slightest exaggeration that very, very few researchers in the biosciences (e.g. medical research, biology and psychology) have ever thought in a focused and concentrated fashion about their subject for even five minutes - indeed, five minutes lies far beyond what they have ever done.

Just try getting a bioscientist even to listen to a fundamental discussion on their field - chances are they will interrupt in less than a minute because they have lost the thread and their attention has wandered: they just aren't interested in anything except what may have potential for advancing their career - which is mostly about publishing empirical papers in high status journals in order to get grant funding (preferably from prestigious sources) - plus doing a sufficient number of the observations and experiments that are a necessary means to such an end (unless they are so far gone as to invent data as well).

They regard anything else as, at best, a complete waste of their time; and such discourse is indeed likely to distract them or shake their confidence. If they are fundamentally wrong in their assumptions, if their field is incoherent and/ or misguided - they really do not want to know about it, that is indeed the very last thing they want to find-out about - so long as their publications and grants continue to flow, and their career is secure and preferably advancing.

So, if you are an informed and intelligent person in any area of bioscience who actually is motivated to think consecutively about your subject, then you are immediately in a small elite. And if you spend a whole morning, afternoon or evening honestly focused on a problem - then you are probably near the pinnacle of understanding internationally.

Not that you will get any professional credit for it - quite the reverse.