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Lone maverick in science “a bit of an outdated concept,” says cell biologist

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Further to “Would the 500 major pre-1970 discoveries be vetoed today?”, some people don’t have a problem with the way things are today. On Thursday, a cell biologist responded in the same newspaper (The Guardian):

Finally, I’d say that the notion of a lone maverick is a little bit of an outdated concept. Science progresses by small increments, fed by many tiny cogs in a vast knowledge machine. We are all of us in the research community standing on the shoulders of midgets, putting together little pieces into an intricately beautiful puzzle. In my current research I’ve been riffing off obscure old papers that no one gave any credence to at the time, and that took decades to click into place with the shifting context of knowledge. There will always be a place for eureka moments and individuals of extraordinary insight and talent – but although they are not as sexy and celebrated as Richard Feynman, the rank and file are just as important.

The piece puts one in mind of Tom Bethell’s aren’t-I-good? girls, but that may be an unfair assessment:

A few days ago, YouTube posted an interesting video called “Let’s Talk About Evolution.” It lasts for six minutes and I recommend it, although for reasons that its sponsors may not like. I’m guessing that Eugenie Scott of National Center for Science Education put this show together, but maybe I’m maligning her.

It shows sixteen female academics or science writers, mostly young, whose enthusiasm for evolution is so overwrought that they turn themselves into propagandists.

Eager to show how well they have been trained, they are like show mares who trot around the paddock jumping over each gate in turn. All the while they give the camera a look that says: “Aren’t I good?” More.

= I’m not frustrated by what frustrates creative people, I don’t wonder about what thoughtful skeptics wonder about.


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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

usually the women thing is to promote women in science as they historically and today lag behind. I don't think women can compete with men intellectually because of a lack of motivation or rather not as motivated as men. men are made to be accomplished and women were made to help men only as the bible teaches. in science accomplishment this is made obvious as affirmative action can't hide the ratio. Science accomplishment requires intelligence. In the old days it was so primitive new ideas could come from a few people but now things get complicated and fewer people kick into the sunlight. The easy stuff, like physics, went first just as biology or inventions are last. Lots to do however. Evolution acceptance is a sign of lack of smarts in those circles that study it. Robert Byers
It's a wonderful metaphor! Oddly enough, I think it might be the other side of the coin concerning the female psyche. Most major whistle-blower tend to be women - they, of course, are the normal decent, indeed, more courageous than foolhardy types, and what I suspect they share in common with the 'aren't I a good girl' type, their anti-types, is a kind of driven nature; once they have their teeth into something, they won't let go, like a dog with a bone (as my godfather once said of my mother). But, here's the thing. Their historical, marginal survival without a male partner, and their anchoring of the family 'come hell or high water', makes them very methodical, canny, multi-task-able, and industrious. It usually makes them better drivers, too, in my experience. My wife drove a Mini like a limousine. Now things have gone the way of the pear, economically, all of a sudden we find that the girls tend to significantly outperform the boys in their schoolwork. Why wouldn't they? 'Etymologically', 'docile' means 'teachable.' Soooo, when professional women have been assiduously doing everything by the book in their workplace, and discover that their superiors, far from setting an example, are a gang of louts, busy only looting and ruining the company, they tend to take it more sorely amiss than their male colleagues. But the 'aren't I good' girls are indeed 'show mares', dubbed in racing circles, 'jades', 'morning glories', 'talking horses'. Axel

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