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Science as Hollywood cubed: Immunologist decries growing culture of narcissism

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From Hannah Devlin at Guardian:

According to Bruno Lemaitre, an immunologist at the EPFL research institute in Switzerland, it is no longer enough to be right – or even to get there first.

Reaching the top of the scientific hierarchy increasingly depends on a glittering media profile, publishing in “trophy journals” and cultivating a network of academic frenemies who are treated as close allies until they become obstacles in the path to academic glory.

<em>Coffee</em> Tins But performers don’t create that atmosphere; audiences do.

Speaking last week at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, Lemaitre described the cut-throat atmosphere of world-class laboratories and international conferences as closer to House of Cards than The Big Bang Theory.

Because scientists would rather party and preen than shut up and calculate?

“Many great scientists are narcissists. It’s a bit sad, but it’s a fact,” he said. “This might surprise an external observer, because scientists are usually perceived as being modest searchers for the truth and working collectively for the advancement of science.” More.

Actually, great athletes can have super egos too, but they often have tough coaches who keep pointing out that they are only as good as their last win.

Narcissists are not evenly distributed throughout the world of science, according to Lemaitre, but tend to cluster in fashionable fields and at historic or wealthy laboratories, such as the Pasteur Institute, Rockefeller University and the Crick Institute in London.

Any other venues in which we might find a lot of scientists who are all PR and no hard news?

Also, did Carl Sagan start this trend?

See also: New Scientist offers lessons in successful narcissism

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One Reply to “Science as Hollywood cubed: Immunologist decries growing culture of narcissism

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Actually, great athletes can have super egos too, but they often have tough coaches who keep pointing out that they are only as good as their last win.

    Such a great point. Sports is just a game – entertainment – but it’s actually more real than the world of celebrity academia where there are no tough coaches or reality-checks to curb all of that narcissism.

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