Sunday, March 22, 2020

My love of university academics knows no bounds.


Well looky there university acadmics, I just landed my first job with a six figure salary:  as a Senior Test Engineer at a large electronics engineering company. We're going to be doing research and development on that 5G thingy that will be going into those new-fangled micro-computers you have in your pockets. 

Meanwhile I'm still waiting for the day when I might get a job in academia in Australia. Almost 30 years later and still waiting for the career that goes nowhere to go somewhere. Like waiting for a train that never comes:  standing on a drab empty railway platform, looking at the clock apprehensively while your life ebbs away. 

Imagine if I was still back there in Canberra, Australia, the city with no industries or reason for existing, other than the indecisiveness of some aristocrats who couldn't decide on Sydney or Melbourne as the capital.  I'd probably be volunteering at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, hopeful that some day someone might notice me and throw me a dollar. I'd probably still be a poor, ignorant, smelly, working-class yobbo with long hair, dirty clothes, and an Australian drawl - I'd still be the same Dave that I was 20 years ago. I might still be living with my mum and dad, except that my dad's been dead for more than a decade and my mum moved away years ago.

Do you know why California is the industrial powerhouse of America and one of the wealthiest places in the world? Because they don't futz around at their universities making bits of paper in obscure academic journals that hardly anyone reads. They apply science and they commercialize it.  I know, it must seem incredible to you.

Well don't worry if those fires didn't take you out, there's still hope that this Coronavirus might do the job. In the meantime maybe you can make a difference by writing some journal articles, because we're going to need more toilet paper.

Haaahahahahaaaa!
- Dave Bad Person




Friday, March 20, 2020

Hindsight is 2020


Don't worry kids, here comes.....

CAPTAIN HINDSIGHT TO THE RESCUE!

"Captain Hindsight here. See that outbreak kids, we should have seen that coming sooner, and we should have done more about it, and..... and of course it's the Big Bad Orange Man's fault, I was writing to the Whitehouse and calling my representative in congress long before anyone else saw this coming, that's how smart I am, but no one wouldn't listen to me...."

That's all for today's episode kids. Tune in again tomorrow when we'll find out if Captain Hindsight is actually Dave Trollpants in disguise, or if he's an entirely new online alter-ego of Dave Bad Person. Until then, remember that Hindsight is 2020, especially in the year 2020!





CAPTAIN HINDSIGHT TO THE RESCUE!

This particular Coronavirus can be genetically traced to a population of cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province. However, it's now believed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan is where the epidemic started. Around the time the outbreak began the market was seen selling wild, exotic, and farmed animals in cages, and all in close proximity to each other. Such conditions are known to cause recombination of viruses and allows them to hop between species and eventually to humans. This is exactly how the closely related SARS virus started in Guangdong province back in 2002. Among the live animals photographed for sale at Huanan Market just before its closure were:  rats, snakes, wolf puppies, porcupines, foxes, crocodiles, giant salamanders, beavers, deer, pangolins, and badgers, as well as the usual poultry and pigs.

We should have seen this coming and we should have done something about it sooner.

CAPTAIN HINDSIGHT!


- Dave Bad Person

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Evidence that the media hysteria about Coronavirus is politically motivated


Here's a little lesson for you in how powerful the media is for controlling public opinion and manipulating crowd psychology.... 

Obama era, June 2009 to August 2010:  the CDC estimates that about 61 million people in the US were infected by H1N1, also known as Swine flu, resulting in 274,000 hospitalizations and 12,500 deaths.

Media response:  pretty chill. A Google search for "H1N1 toilet paper" finds no past articles about bulk toilet paper purchases or shelves emptied of toilet paper. A Google image search for the same words returns no images of bulk toilet paper purchases or shelves emptied of toilet paper. 


Trump era, 2020:  as of 4pm EST yesterday, the CDC has confirmed 1215 cases of Coronavirus and 36 deaths in the US.

Media response:  attempt to induce public mass hysteria. A Google search for "Coronavirus toilet paper" yields dozens if not hundreds of articles about bulk toilet paper purchases and shelves emptied of toilet paper. A Google image search for the same words reveals similar coverage of the topic.

If you're you think this epidemic isn't being politicized because this is an election year, I would say that based on that data alone, you're wrong. Is the liberal media pushing an agenda because they've decided who they want (or don't want) for president? I'll leave that up to you to decide. We've already seen what they've done with trying to suppress Bernie. Do you really think the liberal media works for you? 



- Dave Bad Person


Epilogue:  after talking to friends overseas whose countries are not having election years, but still have media hysteria and mass toilet paper buying, I have to conclude that the news coverage of the virus isn't entirely political at all. So there you go.



References










Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Why we need to completely abandon usage of the Latin language


I wish we'd give up on Latin. Other than its use by monks and nuns in monastic and cathedral schools during the Middle Ages, it's a language that's been dead for 1500 years.

When these religious schools eventually evolved into the first universities around the time of the Renaissance, Latin continued to be used because it was a common language of learning that allowed communication between people from different regions of Europe.  So that's why we have this dead language clinging to existence more than 1500 years after the fall of Rome.

Let's look a little deeper into how pointless it is to continue using this dead language that hardly anyone in the world is able to write, understand, or speak.


Singulars and Plurals
It used to be annoying having to remember obscure Latin singulars and plurals like antennae, vortices, criterion, matrices, addenda, cacti, and so on. As if English spelling isn't enough of a disaster already, then we had these plurals from a dead language to deal with as well.  Fortunately these have now been largely abandoned in favor of simple English plurals with an '-s' or '-es' on the end of the word.

Anatomy
Every body part of every animal is named in Latin. The 16th century scholar Andreas Vesalius is considered the father of modern anatomy and can be credited for expanding the use of Latin in naming body parts. Vesalius was actually born in Brussels and spoke Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, and his name was actually Andries van Wesel. However it was common and often necessary for scholars of his time to Latinize their names so they would be seen as recognized university academics, and could publish in scholarly journals, and cite the works of other people who had also Latinized their names.

As a former neuroscientist and someone who knows a little Latin, I know that the parts of the brain are given Latin names. Some examples of brain anatomical structures are:

  • amygdala
  • caudate
  • putamen
  • hippocampus
  • cortex
  • corpus striatum
  • locus coeruleus

Why did early anatomists give these parts those names?  Well the simple answer is they did it because they had no idea what these structures were for or what they did, so they simply named them after their shape or appearance. That's right!  Those Latin names are actually just names for the shape or appearance of the parts they describe.  Here are those words again in English:

  • almond
  • tail
  • husk
  • sea horse
  • bark
  • striped body
  • blue spot

Clearly the people who named these parts didn't have the faintest clue about them, so to hide their ignorance from ordinary people, they named them in Latin so they could appear intelligent and knowledgeable when talking about them. Like I said earlier, universities are derived from monastic and cathedral schools, and if you've ever spent even the smallest amount of time talking to people in a monastery, convent, or purely academic research, you'll know that they're extremely ignorant, mostly because of the isolated life they lead, which shelters them from the general population and the dynamic world of culture, industry, and commerce going on around them. If you want to appear intelligent and educated, it helps to use words that ordinary people can't understand.


Binomial Nomenclature
The term "binomial nomenclature" is another Latin term which literally means "two-name name-calling".  Binomial nomenclature is the system of naming all living things using two Latin words to uniquely identify that living thing.  It was invented by an 18th century Swedish professor with a German name called Karl von Linne.  Linne was like other scholars of his time in that he Latinized his name. Thus he's always referred to as Carolus Linnaeus. He was the first and most well known taxonomist:  a classifier and namer of biological organisms.  Most biologists don't even know that his real name was not Linnaeus.


Why not English?
Today in the early 21st century the language of learning and science is English. It's certainly not stupid old Latin.  So why are we still using this old Latin crap?  Well obviously the main reason is historical. The other reason is that university academics are actually not the forefront of all that's new and great in the world, and due to their isolation from society, and the traditionalist system in which they're embedded, they're stuck in these old ways.  Like I've said earlier, if you've ever talked to monks or nuns you'll quickly find they're very ignorant people due to their sheltered life and isolation from the outside world.  From my 17 years experience in academia, I found that the same thing can be said of university academics, and it's true that I myself was kept ignorant by the isolation of academic life.  Academics like to think they're at the forefront of change and progress, but in reality the sheltered academic lifestyle has coddled them and turned them into ignoramuses (or is it ignorami?). Their academic freedom means they aren't required to adapt and compete in response to external cultural and economic forces. So progress at universities tends to happen only at glacial speeds:  for example, they're still using Latin from the Renaissance period for fuck's sake!  Most of the research that happens in the world today doesn't happen in universities, even though most academics seem to think that universities have the monopoly on research, but that's only because most of them have never worked outside of one.


The solution?
The solution is simple.  Stop using Latin altogether.  Abandon Latin plurals. Make a new binomial system using English words.  Start naming parts of anatomy using English words.  Once we do this, the names of things will actually make sense, rather than being some jargon in a dead language that no one understands, and that people simply repeat like parrots with no idea what they really mean. Stop this idiotic monopoly of university academics naming things in Latin.  In fact, most academics don't even know any Latin, they just mouth the words, often mispronouncing them, just so they can fit in and give the appearance of being intelligent and educated, when in fact the opposite is more likely to be true.  Often they take Greek words, or words from other languages, or even the names of their research buddies that they want to impress, and they Latinize them for use in naming things, such is the ongoing insanity of this academic Latin craze. 

It's time to let Latin die for good. The sooner we can wrench education and scholarship out of the restrictive hands of university academics, the sooner we can get rid of Latin, and the sooner we can make better and more meaningful progress in the world.


- Dave Bad Person









Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Why doesn't California have the permanent daylight savings we voted for?


So how come California still has the switch to daylight savings if we voted back in the 2018 midterm election to stay on daylight savings permanently? 
Because the bill stalled in the state senate because they were concerned over how it would be implemented.

Well I have a fucking clue about that implementation for you, you worthless procrastinating masturbating state senate knob-jockeys:  you spring forward an hour and then you never change your clocks back ever again!  It's called "change" and it requires you to hop off that dick that's up your ass for a moment and actually do something.


https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Whatever-happened-to-year-round-daylight-saving-15111665.php


- Dave Bad Person

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

President Trump is very popular in India



Welcome again to Troll Time, with your host, Dave Trollpants.

So how about all that news coverage of the Big Bad Orange Man's (BBOM) visit to India at the moment? I mean shit, wow, here we are in the middle of the sensory saturation coverage of an almost meaningless bullshit primary election of billionaires, and all of a sudden we're getting bombarded with news of India's love of BBOM!

One of the largest educated populations on Earth packed 120,000 people into the world's largest cricket stadium to see BBOM. At the rally many people wore red "Namaste Trump" hats as a sign of support. Who would have thought India had so many white supremacists? And there we were with the kooky far-left doomsayers telling us BBOM has no appeal in other countries, but now it turns out they were completely wrong again, and again, and again, and again. Does the kooky far-left actually know anything at all or do they just like making wild predictions and statements that keep being proven unequivocally WRONG!!

"President Trump is very popular in India, according to a recent poll. A Pew Research survey released last month showed that the percentage of Indians that disapprove of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy is 15%, the lowest of 32 countries surveyed. Meanwhile, India had the fifth highest approval rating for Trump’s foreign policy, at 56%, double its approval ratings for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron."

It also turns out India shares our concern for Islamic terrorism, which is not surprising considering how close they are to the Middle East and that 1/7th of their population is Muslim. India and the US are looking to become close partners in defense, and during the rally BBOM announced a $3 billion deal to sell military helicopters to India. Well fuck, there goes the economy and world peace.




- Dave Bad Person



P.S. from the poll stats you can figure that 29% of Indians don't give a crap about his foreign policy, which is over 400 million people, significantly more than the entire population of the United States 🤣




Thursday, February 20, 2020

Quick Dick McDick explains how vegan diets combat climate change

In this video the Canadian agriculturist and YouTuber Quick Dick McDick explains how a vegan diet combats climate change. He uses the example of margarine, which is a substitute for animal-derived butter.

https://youtu.be/aIG9ozEDPVg







-Dave Bad Person




Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The race for the battle for the nomination for the fight to potentially become president

Welcome again to Troll Time, with your host Dave Trollpants.

Welcome back to our non-stop coverage of the race for the battle for the nomination for the fight to potentially become president. In the unrepresentative state of Iowa, a Byzantine selection process has maybe chosen Buttgeek, or maybe Sanders, we're not sure. Meanwhile in New Hampshire, Buttgeek came second and Klobuchar came third, which is important because second and third place are the lead stories.

Now all the Democrats need to worry about is how they'll select an electable candidate if Sanders keeps getting more votes. Fortunately Mike Bloomberg is here to save the day with $400 million in advertising to saturate the airwaves. All Bloomberg needs now is an actual message and some popular support, and he's absolutely guaranteed to win!

Tune in next week when we'll discuss how Bernie's plan for universal health care will lead to gulags and mass executions. Socialism is a slippery slope folks!

And now these message from Mike Bloomberg....


-Dave Trollpants


Credit to This Modern World



Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Attorney General Barr and people's short memories


The morning Trollpants, with host Dave Trollpants.

Funny how Attorney General Barr is facing departmental rebellion and a media hailstorm for "weaponizing the Department of Justice against the political opponents of the big bad orange man".

Where were these critics during operation "Crossfire Hurricane", the Clinton-campaign funded Steele dossier's unsupported allegations, the fraudulent FISA warrants, the Mueller Probe, the use of an ancient and never-before-enforced law to interrogate Flynn, the highly publicized leaks from the FBI, the corrupt and leaky FBI that Comey and McCabe ran?

And now McCabe is indignant about being dragged through the mud, and criticizes the length and cost of the investigation into his lying under oath.

Yet now Barr seeks to shine a light on how all these investigations started and it's suddenly an absolute outrage.

People have very short memories.



-Dave Trollpants

Michael Avennati is going to prison



It's been a while, but welcome again to Troll Time, with your favorite host, Dave Trollpants.

Michael Avenatti, remember that guy, Stormy Daniel's lawyer? Two years ago he was a daily face in the news and was considered a human Excalibur that could vanquish Trump once and for all. The liberal media loved his aggressive style, his promises to take down Trump, and his prediction that Trump wouldn't complete his first term. He was lauded as a "beast", "the savior of the republic", and "saving the country". They said Trump was "terrified" of him, that he was "Trump's worst nightmare", that he was a "folk hero", and an "existential threat to the Trump presidency".

Here's a video montage of the media's fawning over Avenatti.
https://streamable.com/qde1b




All that ego-stroking even had him considering a run for president himself, which made the liberal media froth at the mouth with excitement. They said if Democrats wanted a fighter they "would be foolish to underestimate Avenatti", and that he "stands out" among other candidates, and many liberal talking-heads showed their support.

Today however Americans look like a bunch of suckers ripped off by a grifter. Yesterday Avenatti was convicted of extortion, wire fraud and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort. His crimes were so serious and numerous that he was hauled from the courtroom in the middle of a separate embezzlement trial, booked into jail, and refused bail. At his sentencing he faces up to 42 years in prison.


Just as they did for two years with the Mueller Report, just as they do every day, the liberal media played to the mentality of people who consider themselves more knowledgeable and sophisticated than average Americans, and once again those people got suckered and had their asses handed to them. Their ego-vanity complexes won't allow them to believe they're wrong. Walls don't work, tariffs don't work, this doesn't work, that doesn't work, nothing can be made to work, and Trump is an anti-Christ akin to Hitler, because the liberal media told them so.


SUCKERS!!


Of course, the main group of people suckered by Avenatti were the inner city social climbers. Meanwhile, the flyover forgotten Americans, those with no social status because they were deplorables, because they don't obsess over virtue signalling identity politics and coat themselves in white guilt, they saw through him. These are the same people 
who are attacked for their social status and portrayed as ignorant toothless working-class hillbillies that know nothing. Yet once again they turned out to be right.

https://freebeacon.com/politics/that-time-the-media-dubbed-michael-avenatti-savior-of-the-republic/



-Dave Trollpants





Friday, February 14, 2020

Lupercalia and a possible origin of Valentine's Day?


Lupercalia was an ancient, possibly pre-Roman festival observed in the city of Rome between February 13 and February 15, to repel evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. 

The name Lupercalia means "wolf festival" and is associated with the worship of Pan, who the Romans called Lupercus, and he was depicted as a naked man wearing a goatskin. A statue of Lupercus stood in the Lupercal, which was the name of the cave where it was believed Romulus and Remus were suckled by the she-wolf, Lupa. The Lupercal cave lay at the foot of the Palatine Hill on which Romulus was thought to have founded Rome. Near the cave stood the sanctuary of Rumina, goddess of breastfeeding, as well as a wild fig tree where Romulus and Remus supposedly landed on the banks of the Tiber River in their makeshift cradle. Some Roman sources call the wild fig tree "caprificus", literally "goat fig", and like the cultivated fig, the tree exudes a milky sap if cut, which made it appropriate for a celebration of breastfeeding.

The Lupercalia had its own priesthood, the Luperci ("brothers of the wolf"). During the Lupercalia, at the altar in the Lupercal cave, a male goat and a dog were sacrificed by the Luperci. An offering was also made of salted meal cakes prepared by the Vestal Virgins. 

After the blood sacrifice, two Luperci approached the altar. Their foreheads were first anointed with blood from the sacrificial knife, and then they were wiped clean with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut strips of hide (known as februa, the origin of word "February") from the flayed skin of the sacrificial animals and ran with these, naked or near-naked, along the old Palatine boundary in an anticlockwise direction, laughing and striking those they met with their shaggy bloody strips of animal hide. Many women would purposely get in their way, and would present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant would be helped in delivery and the barren to conceive. The Luperci completed their circuit of the Palatine hill then returned to the Lupercal cave. 

Despite the banning in the year 391 of all non-Christian cults and festivals, the Lupercalia was celebrated by the nominally Christian populace of Rome on a regular basis as late as the reign of the emperor Anastasius, which ended in the year 515.

Around the year 495, Pope Gelasius sought to abolish the festival but the Senate protested that the Lupercalia was essential to Rome's safety and well-being. The following year in 496, Pope Gelasius in his attempts to Christianize the Lupercalia, added Saint Valentine of Rome to the calendar of saints. Saint Valentine was a priest and bishop in Rome who ministered to Christians that were persecuted there. He was executed by the Romans and buried at a Christian cemetery to the north of Rome on February 14 in the year 269.

So, ever since the year 496, February 14th has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine.




-Dave Bad Person


Rebuttal
According to the following Time article, people in the Middle Ages did not celebrate anything in the middle of February, and there is no evidence of Pope Gelasius having replaced the Lupercalia with Valentine's Day, but rather with the feast of the Purification.  Still, I've made a good story out of it.
https://time.com/5527259/valentines-day-lupercalia/
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Gelasius-I

More articles rebutting the idea of Valentine's Day originating with Lupercalia.
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Lupercalia.html

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-roman-festival-of-lupercalia-121029

And another that doesn't rebut the idea.
https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day



Further references

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercalia

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-rome/lupercalia

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/572191/lupercalia-ancient-roman-festival-facts

https://time.com/5527259/valentines-day-lupercalia/







Pseudo-scientific American's attempts a Jedi mind trick about lift


This is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. Pseudo-scientific American magazine attempts some sort of Jedi mind trick to make us think that we don't understand what creates lift in an aircraft. They even explain it perfectly and then do some sort of mental and verbal sleight-of-hand to say they haven't explained it. Probably there are some spindly goggle-eyed pallid-faced scientists in a dark basement at a university somewhere whose molecular flow simulations aren't working right and would believe this article. The kind of people who've never seen or done anything in life and contribute nothing to society, but say with confidence, "That can't work".


Fortunately such people don't work at NASA, or Boeing, or Airbus, or Lockheed-Martin, or Northrop Grumman, or General Dynamics, or 2nd grade classrooms where children make paper planes.





-Dave Bad Person







Wednesday, February 12, 2020

How scientists lie about the goals and utility of their research


This is currently only a prototype post and is part of an ongoing series of blog posts exposing the mistruths that academia uses to fool the public, so they can continue to garner funding to continue their low-effort, low-productivity academic lifestyle and frivolous dream-chasing.  I will be adding more examples to it as time goes on.  Come back later for further updates.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Have you ever been watching some scientific news or reading an article about some sort of scientific research, and at the end of the article the goals and purpose of the research is given? I've seen this many hundreds of times in my life. After a 17 year career in academia and 14 years working in commerical R&D, it's completely transparent to me how this works.  

Take for example this article recently sent to me by a friend.  The important part here is to read the last two sentences.

https://www.zerohedge.com/health/fungi-absorbs-radiation-has-been-growing-all-over-chernobyl-power-plant

Those last two sentences again:
If this study is successful, experts hope that the knowledge gained can be used to produce drugs that could protect astronauts from radiation on long-term missions.
It has also been suggested that the results of this study could lead to the development of fungi-based cancer treatments.

Of course in the final sentences of the article the scientists always have to dream up some grand reason for why they're doing their completely useless and obscure research, "Um ah, it might help develop drugs for astronauts to survive long space missions? Um ah, it could lead to fungal cures for cancer?". 


What a crock of shit. They embark on the research first because they work in some obscure field and have a personal fascination with it, but they also have a need to "publish or perish".  Scientists need at least two publications a year to maintain their careers. So they conduct some research, and then they dream up some possible use for it.

Are the researchers above actually doing research on fungal cancer cures or radiation in long term space missions? Nope, they never were, that was never the goal of their research. The purpose of the research is dreamed up after the research is started. You'll see this all the time in scientific articles and news pieces, the final sentences are some sort of concocted possibility of what the research might be useful for.  In reality however, most scientists have absolutely no idea what utility their research might have. Often they don't even know what the long term goal of their research is.

Currently we have about 2.5 million scholarly scientific articles published each year in over 28,000 scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Many of those journals are very obscure, you're not going to find them on the magazine stands at your local newspaper shop. They also have extremely low readership, and many of them require a paid subscription to read the articles in them.  So more than likely, the research of these scientists will be lost and forgotten in the pages of some obscure scientific journal, to be read by only a handful of people.  However the scientists that publish their research article will appear to have met their minimal level of productivity based on the "two publications per year" rule.  This will allow them to continue to get funding and be able to continue their academic lifestyle of frivolous dream chasing and non-contribution to society. 

Meanwhile, in the world of industry and commerce, there are numerous research projects being done for specific purposes, to solve specific problems, so that specific goals can be achieved. There's an obvious contrast between goal-directed research versus research done to discover things simply because there are things out there to be discovered. The contrast between practical problem solving and frivolous knowledge collecting.



That's all for now. I'll be adding more examples here as I come across them, which would be a daily thing if I was chasing citations like a scientist.  

If you want to read another one of my articles that criticizes the goals and utility of academic research, check out this link.



-Dave Bad Person, PhD wanker




More reading on this topic



Here's another one of my blog posts about why a non-professional college degree is useless.
https://www.badperson.net/2019/10/why-non-professional-college-degree-is.html

Here's my blog post about how academics have become detached from the reality of what society needs from them.
https://www.badperson.net/2020/02/academics-have-become-detached-from-reality.html

If you want to read another thread about my shitty university experiences, check this out:
https://boredofstudies.org/threads/the-australian-national-university-anu-is-a-terrible-university-and-will-ruin-your-future.387681/
https://www.badperson.net/2019/11/the-australian-national-university-anu.html

Here's my parody of the media release by the President of the Australian Academy of Science regarding the recent mega-fires in Australia.
https://www.badperson.net/2020/01/a-message-from-president-of-australian.html



References

https://www.zerohedge.com/health/fungi-absorbs-radiation-has-been-growing-all-over-chernobyl-power-plant

https://sciencenordic.com/academia-basic-research-basic-research-crisis/crisis-in-basic-research-scientists-publish-too-much/1442296

https://www.businessinsider.com/fungi-from-chernobyl-were-launched-into-space-2016-7

https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2020/02/04/fungi_that_eat_radiation_are_growing_on_the_walls_of_chernobyls_ruined_nuclear_reactor.html

https://pharmacy-nutrition.usask.ca/research/spotlight-profiles/spotlight-on-dr.-ekaterina-dadachova.php

https://www.nature.com/news/2007/070521/full/news070521-5.html#B1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677413/

https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/284273main_Radiation_HS_Mod1.pdf

Monday, February 10, 2020

Academics have become detached from the reality of what society needs from them


Have you ever noticed that most of the people teaching at universities don't have any formal training or qualifications in teaching, and are therefore just hobbyist educators? It's true, most universities don't require their faculty to get training in teaching or use evidence-based teaching practices.

Have you ever noticed that most of the research going on at universities doesn't add much value to society?  It can be hard to see that if you've never been part of the academic system.


So are academics really just hobbyist educators who don't add much value to society? Is it justified for them to think of themselves as the pillars of discovery and invention?

Imagine for a moment, the long list that could be made of people who've had great ideas that changed the world, but they didn't work at universities.

Imagine for a moment, the long list that could be made of inventions that changed the world, but which weren't invented at universities.


So why then do academics think of themselves as the pillars of discovery and invention if discovery and invention are not exclusive to academia?

When you start to think about it, it's not surprising that public opinion often considers academics as just a bunch of pretentious snobs, strutting around and acting important, while spending great amounts of time, energy, and money doing worthless nonsense.  Is it any surprise there is a streak of anti-intellectualism running through the American national psyche?  My belief is that it's not actually anti-intellectualism, it's anti-academism. People are tired of the obvious disconnect between what the pretentious academics are doing, and what's actually expected of them.

I had a career in academia for some 17 years, if you include the time I was studying for my undergraduate degree. However I wasn't cut out for it and so I left academia 14 years ago, and ever since then I've worked in the radio communications industry, supporting and doing research that has helped to develop various electronic devices, particularly in the field of cell phones. So I never actually left research, I just moved to a field that applies science and puts it to work for society.  Some of the projects I've worked on have resulted in technologies and products that literally billions of people use every day, and these are technologies and products that have had an enormous impact on our global society and the culture of information exchange and online interaction.

Meanwhile, back at the research school where I studied, they're still doing research on underwater basket weaving and its effects on the sociology of tribal dance.... or something equally useless. I actually have a PhD in neuroscience, a biomedical field, but as far as I can tell neuroscience hasn't contributed much to society in the last 20 years since I finished my PhD, at least not compared to the cell phone industry where I work now. Cell phones have been revolutionary, particularly since 2007 when the first iPhone came out and changed the industry entirely. Cell phones are not even just phones anymore, they're internet-connected pocket computers. When I look at this field, and then look back at my former career in academia, it becomes clear that not one of the researchers, professors, and other people I worked with in academia, many of whom now have big important-sounding titles, has ever made any really meaningful contribution to society in their entire lives, and as far as I can tell they're unlikely to ever do so.

I'm certainly not the first ex-academic to think like this. There was a time around the middle of the 20th century and before, when universities added a lot of value to society. It was a golden age of science and discovery. However the feeling I got from my 17 years in academia was that universities have rested on their laurels, and a career in academia is now just a way for the children of the wealthy to get a career with an important sounding title, at an important sounding institution, with minimal job pressure and deadlines, ample fringe benefits, and little demand to actually produce anything of practical worth. Eventually these people become so coddled by their years in the university system that they're no longer able to function and compete in the outside world, and they become isolated and largely unaware of the dynamic world of industry and commerce going on around them. They become like monks in a monastery, basking in the glory of science while forgetting their purpose in society.

Back in the mid-20th century the value of universities was obvious, and public support and funding for them was justified. Today, with a changing world and a greater focus on data-driven policy-making, there's a lot more uncertainty about whether higher education improves the lives of graduates and is beneficial to society as a whole. Along with this has come the idea that funding these universities has become somewhat of a money pit:  that money goes in and very little of value comes out.

I have several friends who have careers in academia, in field biology, land management, economics, and neuroscience. There is no doubt from my 17 year experience that academics tend to believe in “academic exceptionalism”. That is, they believe their jobs are not work and their work need not address practical concerns. They've forgotten that the privileges granted to them by society in the form of tenure, intellectual freedoms, and academic lifestyle, are given in exchange for the value they're expected to add to society.

Academic research tends to be just that:  academic. The problem has gone far beyond parody in some fields. In the field of social psychology for example, there are studies to determine whether the smell of artificial fart spray alters people's moral judgments, and whether forcing people to hold a pencil between their teeth makes them feel happy.

The usual rebuttal, heard mostly from academics, is that basic science has an impact later in unexpected ways. That's true, but much less often than we realize and only because some other researchers took the trouble to apply those basic discoveries to practical applications. Often academics embrace a false dichotomy of “basic versus applied research", rather than trying to do both.  In my experience, the practical elements of scientific discovery are more often made by companies who are doing research in their industry for a specific purpose, to solve a particular problem, so they can achieve a specific goal.

As for the teaching side of academia, as I said before, they are merely hobbyist educators with no formal training in teaching. I can say with absolute certainty that I learned more from 8 years working at a major semiconductor manufacturer than in all my years at universities.

In a recent discussion on Facebook, someone told me that "Colleges and universities are the very best dollars we spend on promoting, preserving democracy, freedom, peace in the world" and that they "would gladly increase the number of such institutions, allow more foreign students, such education, and enlightenment."

I responded that it would be interesting if we could be more scientific and measure and quantify how much democracy, freedom, and peace universities have added to the world, rather than just throw that out there as an unfounded, unscientific statement.  However, accurate numbers for such nebulous things would probably be hard to determine, and of course this makes it easier for academics to espouse such things without being challenged. Similarly, university staff often talk about broadening people's horizons. Once again, they provide no quantification of that, it's just something unfounded they like to say to sound impressive.  From my own personal university experiences, I can say that my horizon was broadened by about 10 kilometers from my childhood home and no more. As far as I can tell there is nothing that happens at universities that does not happen within companies, businesses, and industries, except for a lack of practical application of science.

Today, after decades of growing public investment in universities, scientists are producing more data than ever before. Today there are about 2.5 million scientific articles published each year and over 28,000 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals, covering an ever-expanding array of ever-narrowing fields. We currently have far more scientific data than we can ever use.  Despite critical examination and peer-review, some of this supposed knowledge has turned out to be contestable, unreliable, or just plain wrong.  The majority of it is simply unusable because it has no practical application to anything. Along the way it is also undermining the four-hundred-year-old idea that wise human action can be built on a foundation of independently verifiable truths. Science is trapped in a self-destructive vortex, and to escape it will need to give up its privileged political status and embrace its limits and become more accountable to the rest of society.

When you look at the statistics, it’s hard not to conclude that the current training pathway for scientists, formally known as a Doctor of Philosophy degree or PhD, is fundamentally broken. For a start, mental health issues are rife:  approximately one-third of PhD students are at risk of having or developing a psychiatric disorder like depression.  This is not surprising considering the unhealthy levels of obsessive-compulsive disorder and semi-autistic personality traits required to be successful as a scientist. The high level of dropouts is also worrying. Research suggests that an average 50% of PhD students leave graduate school without finishing, with numbers higher at some institutions.

Although 80% of science students start their PhD with the intention of pursuing a career in science, their enthusiasm typically wanes to the point that just 55% plan to continue in academia as they near graduation. In any case, most are unlikely to be able to continue their academic careers. One study found that for every 200 people who complete a PhD, only seven will get a permanent academic post and only one will become a professor.  That's 3.5% and 0.5% respectively. Those are not good odds, and an academic career in science is hardly something you would consider if you knew these numbers beforehand.

Many academics enter science to change the world for the better. Yet it often feels like contemporary academia is more about chasing citations. The expression "publish or perish" is well known throughout academia. The idea is that you get yourself two publications per year and that will keep your career afloat. The truth however is that hardly anyone is reading the articles being published. An average academic journal article is read in its entirety by about 10 people. Even worse, the journals they publish their work in are very obscure, and they often require an expensive paid subscription to read them. So most academic work is hidden away from public view and shared with only a tiny audience in a narrow sub-corner of the scientific community, rather than with policy-makers or businesses that would use the information. This makes the work of most academics entirely disconnected from practicality. Universities are slowly starting to realize this, but of course, as with much of what goes on at universities, real change only happens at glacial speeds.

Thus it seems that the primary goal of contemporary academia has become to publish material that will get cited by other authors, rather than about changing the world. Impractical academic work of this kind, which is certainly in the majority from my observations, symbolizes everything that’s broken in academia. Academics love citations rather than solutions. They chase kudos within their academic community rather than trying to discover something new that will be useful and have a real impact on society.

As a solution to the problem, new PhDs should go out into the field and talk to businesses and policy-makers from day one of their research, rather than spending the first year or more reading obscure academic literature. Students would then co-create the content of their theses with their supervisor as well as the practitioners in their field of research.  I've heard academics say that the best PhD students come from industry because they know the kinds of problems that need to be solved.  I have to disagree.  If there were problems that an industry really needed to solve, the research would already be happening at companies within that industry, rather than in the stagnant backwater of a university where it will be lost and forgotten in the pages of some obscure scientific journal.

Instead of laboring over every sentence of a 100,000 word dissertation locked away in an office, PhD students should share a concise 2,000 word draft with people who actually make practical use of that knowledge, so they can collect targeted feedback. They would finish their PhD only when they've made a difference in the real world.

It’s time to disrupt the current PhD system. We need to move away from a self-referential culture in which academics talk only to their peers. One of the core principles of academia should be to apply knowledge, rather than to just collect it. Reminding ourselves of this may help to fix the broken PhD machine.



Regards,

Dr. David J. Bad Person PhD, Assistant Associate Hyper-Professor and Uber-Director at the Department of Extremely Important Impractical Studies, within the Institute for Overly Lengthy and Pretentious Titles, at the University of Useless Knowledge Collecting.




Epilogue


I sent this blog post to 10 academics I know in the USA, Australia, France, and Canada.  N
ot a single one of them replied.  I also shared it with a friend of mine who is a major contributor to the Marine Biology field but does not work in academia, but he thoroughly believes in the value of academia. His response was to unfriend me on Facebook. I messaged him about that and then he blocked me. It was as if all these people are saying...

"How dare you question the ultimate authority of the university system, especially after 17 years of being a part of it, followed by 14 years of working in research outside of it. What could you possibly have to say that's of any relevance?"

I often liken academics to monks in a monastery, the same culture from which universities are derived. They sit in their ivory towers isolated from the outside world.  The lack of responses to my contact with them felt like...

"Quick, close the gates of the monastery, the big scary world outside is peering in and telling us things we don't ever want to hear, and they might see all the butt 
fucking we get up to!"

Well I have a big surprise for academics from my experience in commerical R&D:  most of the research going on in the world doesn't happen at universities. Academics produce irrelevant publications, which are read by hardly anyone, and are of little significance to the world.

Their lack of replies was simply another one of their mental and verbal defence mechanisms:  the extinction of the discussion by non-response.


Academic mental and verbal defense mechanism #1:  extinction of the discussion by non-response.

Another mental and verbal defence mechanism that I've seen academics use multiple times is to remind dissenting individuals, such as myself, about some great scientist or academic from the mid-20th century, and then praise the work of that scientist and liken themselves to them. For example:  "Well Albert Einstein did some very esoteric research but ended up with theories that revolutionized physics, and his work has had many practical applications since then. So you see how the work of academics like myself is of great value".  This is just another defence mechanism. First of all the academic who says this is not Albert Einstein and usually isn't even close to being of the same caliber and worth as Einstein.  Second, Albert Einstein died way back in 1955, so why don't they have a more recent example?



Academic mental and verbal defense mechanism #2:  likening themselves to a famous scientist from the mid-20th century.

Meanwhile back in reality, people are solving problems and making the world a better place, while the primary goal of most academics is to "publish or perish". That is, to make bits of paper that hardly anyone reads so they can maintain their own self-absorbed career, their easy going academic lifestyle, and their minimal contribution to society. 


After the lack of responses, I took several paragraphs from this Epilogue and sent it back to them.  Only one of them replied, an economist in Canada.



----------------------
Hey Dave,

If you asked me out for a beer I’d be happy to discuss and point out where I think you’re right and where you’re wrong and important ideas that your analysis ignores. But cc’ing a blog post to a bunch of people and expecting them to drop everything to read your complaints about academia and respond to either 1) justify their careers or 2) admit that they're leeches on the public purse or a waste of a good brain is all costs and no benefits (for me at least). It’s not surprising that no one responded, but it doesn’t really prove anything important. I get random screeds against economists from civilians all the time. I’d never get anything done if I responded to all of them.

This is pretty well-trodden territory. I scanned over what you wrote. I’ve heard these arguments before. I could spend a bunch of time arguing about it with you, but I’ve also got a lot of other things to do, and some of them come with benefits for me, or my students, or people close to me. Including friends who are willing to offer a beer or a few minutes of their company in exchange for my thoughts on their ideas rather than emailing to get me to respond to a blog post. I’ve just chosen to prioritize my time differently than you want me to. I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that you think about stuff like this. More people should. I just don’t see that I or anyone on this list is obligated to drop everything and be your sounding board when you want one.

Apologies for the “reply-all” but apparently I’m a big enough academic wanker to think others on this list might be interested in my thoughts. ;)

Best,
<name redacted>

----------------------


My reply to this was as follows, and I also made sure to "Reply All".

----------------------
Well I'd love to hear your rebuttals in some concise form. I know you have enough time to tell me how busy you are on a Saturday morning, but not enough time to make a valid point in even one single sentence of your reply, other than to suggest some of my points are invalid without providing evidence, and that perhaps some drunken banter over beers will provide me with all the enlightenment I'm missing. Of course we both know such drunken banter will never happen due to our geographical separation, so it's safe to throw that out there as yet another defence mechanism, one that I've seen used before: "Oh well I'd answer you over some beers if we didn't live so far apart, and then I could discount it all as drunken blithering the next morning". Isn't it strange how the nebulous and double-standard world of academia works?



Academic mental and verbal defense mechanism #3:  proposing to discuss the matter over beers because they supposedly don't have time to do it right now. Notice how they have time to tell you how busy they are, but not the time to provide a single sentence of actual evidence-based rebuttal. The concept of having beers together sends a friendly message of peace to calm the critic. I've pressed people before for these beer discussions but quickly found that the goal was to ply me with alcohol to befuddle my mind, and then discount the entire discussion as drunken nonsense the next morning.


My reply continued...

Meanwhile, at my work, we're working on testing the new 5G wireless technology, so that billions of people can have even higher speed wireless data networks on their pocket computers. Cars on the road will also be communicating directly with each other soon. How many people do you know with a pocket computer that has high speed wireless internet in most places? I'll bet it's many orders of magnitude more than the few dozen people that read your research papers. That's called making a difference, putting science to work for society, and none of the R&D that makes it happen takes place at universities.

Fires in Australia? The academics had no answers when my family home burned down 17 years ago, they have no answers now, other than to blame global warming, and when it happens again in about 20 years as it has done for millennia, they'll still have no answers. Yet they ensure us we should make wise actions and policies based on their vast knowledge and expertise of fires and land management. These so-called experts have to say something because they need to "publish or perish". They certainly can't allow themselves to say that their land management policies and practices have been a complete failure.


Perhaps I could make another computer model of the electrical properties of a motorneuron to make a difference in the world? That was my PhD thesis. Even the emails I wrote back home over the course of my two year postdoc in Switzerland contained more words than my PhD thesis, took less time to write, were more interesting, and were read by more people.

There are good reasons we don't like to hire PhDs in industry, and it's because they've been coddled by the university system and don't know how to produce on deliverables. Academia is a lifestyle choice, like being a monk in a monastery, living on handouts, and isolating yourself from the real world and real solutions.

Dave

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Number of times this page has been viewed as of 3/9/2020:  47
More than most academic research papers!




That's all for now.

-Dave Bad Person, PhD wanker




More reading on this topic

Here's another one of my blog posts about why a non-professional college degree is useless.
https://www.badperson.net/2019/10/why-non-professional-college-degree-is.html

Here's another one of my blog posts about how scientists lie about the goals and utility of their research so they can make themselves and their work seem more important.
https://www.badperson.net/2020/02/how-scientists-lie-about-the-goals-and-utility-of-their-research.html

If you want to read another thread about my shitty university experiences, check this out:
https://boredofstudies.org/threads/the-australian-national-university-anu-is-a-terrible-university-and-will-ruin-your-future.387681/
https://www.badperson.net/2019/11/the-australian-national-university-anu.html

Here's my parody of the media release by the President of the Australian Academy of Science regarding the recent mega-fires in Australia.
https://www.badperson.net/2020/01/a-message-from-president-of-australian.html




References

https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/aug/09/a-phd-should-be-about-improving-society-not-chasing-academic-kudos

https://www.jamesarvanitakis.net/on-collegiality-and-civility-or-9-tips-on-not-being-an-academic-jerk/


https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-motivated-brain/201809/the-self-defeat-academia

https://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/varying-degrees/

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Higher-Ed-s-Real/243867
https://wiki2.org/en/Project_Hindsight

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691615583128

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691616674458

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/saving-science

http://blog.cdnsciencepub.com/21st-century-science-overload/


https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2017/04/phd-students-face-significant-mental-health-challenges


https://www.chronicle.com/article/PhD-Attrition-How-Much-Is/140045

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28922403

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/21/phd-cant-find-academic-job-university

https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/prof-no-one-is-reading-you

https://sciencenordic.com/academia-basic-research-basic-research-crisis/crisis-in-basic-research-scientists-publish-too-much/1442296