The Perils of Industrialization

How the industrialization of academic science has ruined research, and what we can do about it.

Andr?s Asz?di
Aug 1, 2007
<figcaption> Credit: © Zefa</figcaption>
Credit: © Zefa

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Newton had it easy. He was financially independent, didn't have to worry about writing grants, and didn't know what a publication list was. For Darwin, science was a country gentleman's pastime, not a job that he needed to sustain himself.

The Industrial Revolution changed all this. For the first time in human history, it became possible to produce goods and services on a mass scale. Industrialization proved so successful that science also fell victim to it, and academic research now resembles a commercial operation.

That means that science is driven by customer demand, because society funds basic research only to satisfy well-defined interests - for example, the discovery of new therapies. To meet this demand, scientists must function as efficient machines that convert grant money into publications. Scientists therefore must give up academic freedom and work...