Nobel Prize for Medicine Randy Schekman: Science is in the hands of a caste

Nobel Prize for Medicine Randy Schekman: Science is in the hands of a caste
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

The main scientific journals distort the scientific process and represent a tyranny that must be broken ". This is the 2013 Nobel Prize for Medicine judgment.

The main scientific journals distort the scientific process and represent a tyranny that must be broken ". This is the 2013 Nobel Prize for Medicine judgment. 

Randy Schekman, is the American biologist who won the Nobel prize for discovering the mechanism that regulates the transport of molecules in cells, and is also the new iconanti-caste which makes violent accusations, about a problem that has actually been discussed for some time. "Science is at risk: it is no longer reliable because it is in the hands of a closed and far from independent caste". The complaint is serious, even more so because it is the thing that Randy Schekman thought to say to the "Guardian", the day he received the Nobel Prize, and therefore not only at the most important moment for his research career, but also in the moment of maximum visibility for him. But that's not enough, Schekman's statement had been preceded by a couple of days, by that of another highly respected scientist, Peter Higgs, a well-known theorist of the Higgs boson, who had always denounced the system of scientific publications to the "Guardian".

But if Schekman's statement is sensational, the silence with which it was swallowed up by the press is equally sensational. Some Italian newspapers have dedicated at least the minimum union, like Il Corriere della Sera, which headlines "Schekman: Major scientific journals damage science" (little more than a short story) and Unity, "The Nobel Schekman: Boycott Science and Nature"while others have conspicuously forgotten to mention it. But even more conspicuous is the "forgetfulness" on the part of subjects who make scientific popularization their central topic. Not a word has been spent in fact, by newspapers such as Le Scienze, Oggiscienza, Query, Pikaia and even Focuse Ocasapiens, generally careful to defend the so-called good science (the one disemboweled by CICAP!) from the perhaps slightly extravagant ideas of some little known personages.

The main international scientific journals - Nature, Cell and Science - are compared by Schekman to tyrants: “They publish based on the media appeal of a study, rather than on its real scientific relevance. For their part, given the prestige, the researchers are willing to do anything, even to modify the results of their work, in order to obtain a publication ".

"The temptation to see their works published in those journals pushes researchers to adjust the results, to make them more captivating and" fashionable. All this obviously at the expense of discoveries perhaps less trendy but more important and crucial for progress". Unpaid, Schekman also attacks publishers, who prefer to think of the scoop rather than the intrinsic value of a job. In other words, money first, then science.

Such an accusation launched by a new Nobel Prize should deserve the utmost attention, but the technique is always the same: to ignore not to give visibility to certain ideas, considered uncomfortable. But Schekman adds more: "These magazines are capable of changing the fate of a researcher and a research, influencing the choices of governments and institutions. They exploit their prestige, distort scientific processes and represent a tyranny that must be broken, for the sake of science ".

"Science with its declarations is an authority capable of influencing the choices of governments and institutions, and if it can be manipulated by those who hold the command of the main scientific publications, it is automatically true that statements on sensitive issues can be oriented based on the convenience of the governments themselves or the institutions ". Schekman's statements therefore indirectly support that on issues such as Global warming, the H1N1 pandemic, eugenics and all the implications of the Malthusian vision of evolution, the possibility of orienting studies in a "convenient" sense is real.

The episode of Schekman's statement shows that even for a Nobel Prize it is not easy to denounce the problems of science, let alone for vastly less visible subjects. However, Schekman's denunciation represents an incentive for all those who consider science to be a valuable reality, which must be defended against exploitation and any attempt to bend its results to the advantage of particular interests.

Source: Small Dose Medicine