To be brief, lots of things are wrong with Academia, and most of the problems are well-observed and well-documented by academics themselves. Just search for the title of this post and you will find thousands of articles about the subject. However, most of them are about things which are not working for academics, and it’s hard to find something that views the whole picture and discusses whether the whole system is functional and appropriate or not.
Just to mention some of major problems of academia, I quote this from an article titled “ACADEMIC RESEARCH: A HIGH-COST, LOW-BENEFITS BUSINESS”:
“Cheats and tricks, excessive volume of material to read, poor quality of the research, and poor societal usefulness have become common in the world of modern science.”
That article explains how people under pressure of the culture of Publish or Perish in universities have to cheat to stay in this game. At the end of this article and this blog you will find how academia turned to a modern slavery system.
Anyway, there are other issues that deserve mentioning:
In most research fields, all researchers can express in their papers, is what they observed, and usually they are cautious not to make claims and conclusions that lands in metaphysics field. So we have to be careful and meticulous about what a paper is going to claim. For example if a study claims that high-salt diet raises heart risks, it does not mean that eating less salt is good for your health or even that it cut heart risks. So we should avoid misunderstanding scientific claims, and not give such claims more credit than they really deserve.
The other issue is when the same scientific observations, supposedly accurate, are explained to the public, it’s mixed with imaginations, superstitions, and themes from Sci-Fi stories. Just look at this video to see what I am talking about. Such claims are beyond experimental science, and in the territory of metaphysics. Having an idea of how the whole universe works, what our place in this universe is, and by any change or advancement, what we are really going to achieve, are the minimum questions we have to find the answer before starting an experiment. My point is, scientists are mostly the main culprit in such cases, and they cannot just point their fingers to others. Most of scientific researches are carried by young scientists who yet need to develop their critical-thinking skills and train themselves in separating facts from fictions, which is becoming a very hard task, day by day, being under the influence of all these Sci-Fi movies and computer games.
Apart from these issues, one should have a bad memory to be able to consider scientific findings seriously. Personally, I have witnessed how facts considered solid have shifted and drifted over time. Twenty years ago, I talked to a brain surgeon who was very confident about his knowledge of how the nervous system works, the whereabouts of memory and emotion centers in the brain, and what tasks the left or right brain can handle. Now I see that what they say about the difference between the left and right brain is totally different from 20 years ago; and now, they are not even sure if memory and emotions are centralized in the brain or some portions are distributed in other parts of the body like the heart. For years the heart was considered just a mechanical pump, but now they wonder why when they transplant a heart, patients experience memories, habits and desires they never had before. It’s claimed that DNA is the basic element that defines everything about creatures. and they studied DNA of most of creatures, they know how many of DNAs in every creature are the same as the other one, and how many are identical. With so many shifts and drifts in scientific claims we have seen before, how we can trust this claim is reliable? Can studying of all DNAs of a creature tells us how that creature as a system functions? Do they really know about DNA as much as they claim?
The last issue is scientists are not good at expressing the phrase of “I do not know”, and they use every weapon in their arsenal to avoid it. When they cannot do anything else, they try to find a euphemism for that phrase, and wrap it in complex nomenclature and sophisticated phrases to make impressions that at least they know something, or that they are close to finding the answer. But in reality, what they do is not more than showmanship, and when you look at lots of their papers, you cannot find anything more than a simple “I Do Not Know”. Why they turn this phrase into a lengthy, complex paper or thesis, I just do not know.
Personally, I have no problem with science, but my point is:
- we should be careful in interpreting scientific findings,
- Scientific findings cannot be used to make metaphysical conclusions.
- we should not use it as a sales technique
- If you do not know something, you should tell it in a simple and clear way, and not to mislead people.