Ye Olde Scientifick Methode
The following appeared a long time ago in the SKEPTIC list. The
author is Taner Edis, list owner,
and manager of The
- Think up some project that has a good chance of attracting grant money.
- Devise a radical hypothesis to explain the (yet unobserved) data, and
highlight how it is extremely important to support your work since it has
such important implications.
- Show how your hypothesis alters our perception of Life, The Universe,
and Everything. Even better, show how it can lead to immediate corporate
- Using the grant money, buy expensive equipment, and hire some grad students
and postdocs to continually tell you how brilliant you are.
- Get some results which look promising, but are inconclusive enough to justify
turning this project into a long-term research program.
- Go back to step 3 and continue refining until you have a solid proposal
to extend your grant for another year.
- Publish often during this process. Preferably, every small and incremental
"advance" deserves a paper of its own. Be repetitious -- the number of publications
is what counts most.
- If others repeat the same sort of experiment, and get
vaguely the same sort of results, band together to form an interest group. Organize
conferences where you invite and praise each other. Cite each others' work in
your papers. Call your general results "___'s Law", where "___" is the most
influential member of your group. Lobby for more money, making sure to point
out that your field is "hot," emphasizing that scientific revolutions or corporate
products are just around the bend.
- If new observations or experiments come along which don't fit the law or
theory, attack them as obviously wrong. Don't invite researchers who disagree
with your interest group to your conferences. Give dissenting papers bad peer
reviews in the anonymous review process. Praise their grant proposals as "good"
when advising granting agencies, knowing full well that only "excellent" projects
stand a chance of getting funded.
- If political winds shift and you find yourself defending an unpopular theory,
make a virtue of it. Read Charles Tart, and sell your project as such a revolutionary
idea that we must redesign stagnating orthodox science to accommodate it. Find
a senator who will try and create a new government agency dedicated to your
interest group's work.
- While doing all this, go back to step 1 whenever you feel inspired.