I’ll give you a grant, you give me a grant. A science where nothing is better explored

“Yesterday we had an interesting debate about higher education in a company. I understood from her that detachment from reality also begins there, when universities and research there is a world unto itself, which is often completely uninteresting to the outside world,” noted Vávra.

“Whoever wants to earn money at the university and not live on a below-average salary, must do research. Research is funded by grants. Grants are awarded by the grant agency. Because the research is very specialized, experts on the given issue, i.e. people from universities, sit in the committees for the approval of grants. That is, colleagues and friends of grant applicants. Which is an absolutely ideal environment for corruption. We have professors here whose salary without research is tragic. So they have to do research, which de facto matches their salaries. So the ideal is to come up with something that no one understands, get it approved by your colleagues, approve something for them in return, and then “research” some absurdity with zero benefit for society, which is, however, so complicated and specific that no one cares about it it will not poke from the outside. Subsequently, of course, the result still needs to be properly reviewed positively,” adds Vávra, noting that he is not talking about pharmacy, for example, but about the school of economics or sociology. “Here, the research may result in the finding that one-legged pensioners who identify themselves somehow are discriminated against in the allocation of crutch allowances,” he mentioned.

“It has one more aspect, namely that such an environment is politically distorted and will certainly not motivate anyone to embark on something controversial. It’s much safer for scientists to research something that’s currently buzzing and produce results that don’t attract suspicion. It is quite desirable that their results are in line with the results of their colleagues and that they do not put anyone in a bad light. A colleague is unlikely to award you a research grant that contradicts his own research. So at a time when it is desirable for scientists to verify, question, or find new solutions to problems like covid, vaccines, climate change, no one will rush to investigate the effectiveness of a vaccine when the mandate from the state is to stuff vaccines into the people, and the people who they will approve your grant, they themselves investigate how great and effective it is,” mentioned Vávra.

‘Something similar has happened with modern art, which is a completely bizarre world unto itself, which hardly anyone normal cares about, and lives practically primarily on grants. It actually works similarly. A person graduates from a school where he is taught by someone who has not applied himself in the real world. With what the school gives him, he surprisingly doesn’t apply either, and his main job is finally working at the school as an assistant or a professor (I have many such acquaintances). Of course, these people will be in a tough fight with any successful people from outside. And successful people from the outside have no motivation to waste their time in a bunch of envious regressive tragedies for a miserable salary,” said Vávra.

“A graduate can also work in a subsidized gallery or in a subsidized magazine. There, together with others, they can praise each other and, on the basis of these ‘reviews’, obtain grants from committees in which other of their friends sit. And here we have a twisted world, where critics, grant makers and grant givers are basically the same people, living in their own world, convinced of their indispensability to society, a society that despises them, and that society has absolutely no interest in their world, but still has to pay for it . The real art then takes place somewhere else entirely. In the concept art departments of film and game studios. In pop culture. In an alternate scene. That this is happening in art has been clear for decades. I was a little surprised that this is also happening in economics and other fields. However, that study about knights riding ponies (which I filmed the last Jama about), which actually didn’t even prove that knights rode ponies, is kind of out of this world. Complete self-serving obscurity with a dubious result,” added Vávra.

“I’m not from a university background, so I may have a very skewed understanding of this, and I’d welcome some light and debate. However, very well-informed people participated in the discussion yesterday, and in principle we agreed on something similar,” concluded Vávra.

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author: vef


The article is in Czech

Tags: Ill give grant give grant science explored

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