What Happened to the Curious Scientist?

So I've been working in a lab again, and this time we're not as well-budgeted as I was last time (not to mention that, unlike my old lab, there's a much greater emphasis on finding out new information, as opposed to verifying information for clinical purposes).

The upshot of all this is, I've noticed, a much heavier emphasis on results. Not in the sense of 'hey this is interesting what can we do with it', but rather 'why is this not working the way we predicted?'

I miss the former.

Growing up, we're told that science is all about trying to figure out why the world works the way it is. You see something weird in nature, you hypothesize about why it's like that, and you set up experiments until you've figured out why. Thus, the carefully controlled lab setting provides answers about real conditions.


This method is very expensive, and has a pretty low standard of accountability. 'I just couldn't reproduce the python wrapping in such-and-such a way around that tree' or 'this molecule just doesn't want to interact with x protein in vitro'! ...that's not good enough.

Money comes from the layperson, and what those guys want is results. I don't even mean information, I mean like actual direct clinical connections. They don't see the point of better understanding a mechanism, even though you can't really target a drug for one area without some sense of what's going on there....

The only way to return to what science used to be is for the scientists to be the ones regulating funding. Somehow I don't see that in the future :/

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