Don Marti

Mon 20 Feb 2012 12:06:05 PM PST

Why is Science losing?

Is anyone else getting a little tired of scare-mongering about "anti-science" trends, when it comes from organizations that do non-Open Access scientific publishing? This is like designing a new jewelry line, giving it to Gollum to conceal in the bowels of Middle-Earth, and then complaining about your shelf placement.

Let's say you wanted to send the message of "I'm running a large scary organization, and I'm trying to do something evil to you in a sneaky way." How could you do that better than by publishing original information in proprietary journals, then releasing patronizing, dumbed-down information for voters and patients?

How is modern medical science getting so badly out-publicized, out-communicated, and out-SEOed by "quacks"? And to come up with another example, where is the "scientific consensus" over climate change? Buried in expensive journal archives, while the controversy version of the story thrives online.

Scientists: If you get handed the keys to the Library of Wisdom, then choose to lock the place up and hand over the keys to Elsevier et. al., don't complain about the occult bookstore across the street. And come to think of it, OA is necessary but not sufficient. Maybe what we need now is SEOA.

I recall Carl Sagan, in the Cosmos series, talking about the fall of the Library of Alexandria.

He laid a significant part of the blame with the proto-scientists and philosophers themselves: by locking it all up in an élite priesthood and keeping the barriers high for anyone who wanted to take part in the scientific dialogue, there was no popular support to defend the Library when the calls came to destroy it.

Is that covered in more detail elsewhere? I would guess Sagan was summarising the explanations of others, but I don't know where those explanations would be.

Comment by Anonymous Wed 16 May 2012 10:04:21 PM PDT