Daniel Lemire's blog

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The myth of the scientist as a disinterested individual

8 thoughts on “The myth of the scientist as a disinterested individual”

  1. Daniel Lowd says:

    CS research does not have to be immediately practical in order to be valuable. If someone submits a proof that P != NP, then I would like that to be evaluated by peer review, not by software engineers.

  2. Benoit says:

    “most people have a hard time thinking of politicians as self-interested”
    Seriously?? Doctors and scientists, maybe.
    Good points anyway!

  3. I agree. Just one remark, at least in Brazil, no one thinks that politicians are there for the greater good. Just a naive minority.

  4. I’m fine with having my work evaluated by people who are not computer scientists. Academics from other field might be much better at gauging the long-term scientific potential and see new opportunities. So if my next papers is judged by philosophers, chemists and anthropologists: cool! It’s great if software engineers read it too, but they are not necessarily the main audience.

  5. I agree that there is a need for external regulations and the system is far from being perfect. However I fear that practitioners are not always in the position to evaluate research, they are mostly able to evaluate only what they can directly apply, not the pieces of research that will eventually lead, composed with others, to practical applications in a far distant future.

    Henry Ford comes in mind “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

    Could you imagine practicioners to think that the first implementation of Lisp was something worth being published?

  6. Daniel Lowd, peer reviewing is often done by engineers. What makes you think that engineers are inferior to official scientists?

  7. “greedy engineer”? No! 🙂 Kornel Marton once wrote (through Dave Winer’s site): “… the software community is unique in the sense that this is the only place where freewheeling artists types, bespectacled academics, nerdy engineers, and greedy MBA types work side by side in building products.”. (Ref.: http://scripting.com/mail/mail980520.html.)

  8. @Frederico

    Could you imagine practitioners to think that the first implementation of Lisp was something worth being published?

    McCarthy invented the notation and Steve Russell, a grad. student who was more of an engineer than an academic, showed that it could be implemented on computers.

    It is precisely because an engineer recognized the value of Lisp that we still hear about it today. Otherwise, I conjecture, it would have remained in theory textbooks without much impact at all.