Probably. A friend writes to mention a report on a study claiming to show that when an elite scientist dies in an academic subfield, new ideas and innovations follow:
Here’s the pattern: After the unexpected death of a rock-star scientist, their frequent collaborators — the junior researchers who authored papers with them — suddenly see a drop in publication. At the same time, there is a marked increase in published work by other newcomers to the field
All this suggest there’s a “goliath’s shadow” effect. People are either prevented from or afraid of challenging a leading thinker in a field. That or scientific subfields are like grown-up versions of high school cafeteria tables. New people just can’t sit there until the queen bee dies. More.
Didn’t Kuhn say something like that in Structure of Scientific Revolutions?
This problem has been recognized elsewhere, and is a major, often unacknowledged, contributor to science scandals.
Sometimes, as in the second linked story, we are told that “authorities” intervened at last, but the information must have been provided to them by students and colleagues.
Just another reason for the open society, where truth is a commodity and lies are costly. In closed societies, it is the other way around.
See also: If peer review is working, why all the retractions?
Note: High school cafeteria queen bee dies? Gosh, some of us thought Teen Angel was just a pop song. Yikes. 😉
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