De-emphasis Of Scholarship I have just returned from another study-section meeting. During a typically excruciating discussion of the most minute and insignificant details of a grant proposal, my mind wandered off a little, and I began to wonder about the enterprise that I have been part of for almost 30 years. What is science, anyway?

At its best, science is an attempt to understand the natural world through a shared idiom-an understanding that can be enjoyed by anyone who is willing to learn the language. It seems to me that there are at least two components to this exercise-the collection of facts and their interpretation.

Some of the greatest scientists in the history of mankind have contributed to this communal undertaking without grants, large laboratories, or scores of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. This may have been because our illustrious predecessors took the trouble to acquire a body of knowledge,...

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