It’s twisted to know that sloppy, not fully thought out labs constantly take an advantage to more precise, carefully crafted ones in the world of science. The harsh truth that the entire “A Broken Culture” chapter brought to light was one that took me by surprise. I had read about sloppy science in previous chapters, but never about how much they outdid or how much attention the inaccuracies of them garnered.
In some cases scientists are working as fast as possible to get as many papers published as they can, creating obvious mishaps and for the wrong purpose. Even worse, it ends up working out in their favor: “The pressures of natural selection and evolution actually favor these labs because the volume of articles is rewarded over the quality of what gets published. Scientists who adopt these rapid-fire practices more likely to succeed and to start new “progeny” labs that adopt the same dubious practices.” (pg. 188).
It wasn’t only surprising to me that these reckless techniques were working, but that often times the quantity of labs rather than quality was a strong deciding factor in employment for a scientist. The fact that being published so many times or by a “big time”, flashy journal helps determine someone’s career is unfair to those with determination and rightful ethics who are under-recognized.
Richard Harris offers a viewpoint on the morality of this ethical issue and how it stems: “Part of the problem boils down to an element of human nature that we develop as children and never let go of. Our notion of what’s “right” and “fair” doesn’t form in a vacuum. People look around and see how people are behaving as a cue to their own behavior.” (pg. 187).
He further explains that when people sense they have an equal shot they’re more likely to abide by the rules. Consequently, if they feel as if a fair chance is absent, they will like act out and break the rules. I agree that in a field like this, much like in everyday life, we look to adjust our behavioral aspects bases upon our surroundings.
The rising of unreliable research seems like a contradiction to this constant “innovative” and “advanced” way we hear bio-medicine being described as. Reading Rigor Mortis has definitively shifted my perspective on scientific research that receives a lot of media attention and the reality of it all. My hope is that people start informing each other about these issues and including these into conversations about “new discoveries.”