At one point in time, it used to be popular in science to push new concepts and to push new ways of improving our lives. But along comes academia, where it is taught to go along with the majority rather than cause any waves. Thus, maintaining the status quo!
Fred Southwick who is a professor at the University of Florida wrote an opinion piece in The Scientist that addresses this very issue…
“Many who succeed in advancing to leadership positions in academia have been cautious, making few enemies and stirring little controversy. But such a strategy fails to generate the insights that drive scientific fields of research forward. The history of science is filled with mavericks who refused to accept the prevailing theories and challenged the status quo.”
“In the field of infectious diseases, those scientific mavericks included Louis Pasteur, whose germ theory was ridiculed; Joseph Lister, who promoted the concept of sterilization; and Ignaz Semmelweis, who determined the cause of puerperal fever and emphasized the importance of hand washing as a preventative measure. In recent years, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren challenged the dogma that peptic ulcer disease was the result of stress when they proposed and proved that this disease was actually caused primarily by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.”
Academia became an influential tool directed at scientists because it was backed by huge sums of money which prevents researchers from stepping out of the structure given to them that was established by the grant itself. Meaning that if you think outside the box, you loose your funding. As a result of success being as low as it is, scientists tend to focus more on writing their proposals rather than doing innovated research in the lab.
Fred Southwick concludes his opinion piece by saying this…
“Thankfully, some scientific institutes recognize the need for collaboration and, following the lead of the business world, are utilizing teams of experts in different specialties to work together to generate the hypotheses and design the appropriate experiments to advance knowledge, promote growth, and foster creativity in their fields. The university system would benefit from embracing this same approach.”
“University governing bodies need to assemble leadership teams comprised of people who actually work in their laboratories and understand the challenges of today’s research environment. Ambitious and creative minds have revolutionized our world, and our perceptions of our universe, in a very short period of time. If our universities fail in their primary mission to create new knowledge, our progress toward creating a better world for everyone will be seriously compromised.”