The Curious Incuriousness of Scientists

When I entered the NIH (National Institues of Health) game, one of the very first things I did was read every single fucken word I could find about grants on the NIH Web site and its various relevant components: OER (Office of Extramural Research), CSR (Center for Scientific Review), OD (Office of the Director), and the various IC (Institutes and Centers) Web sites. There is a *huge* amount of information there. I mean, did you know that you can read the motherfucken minutes of every motherfucken Council meeting for every motherfucken IC?

The fact that so few people do this is pathetic, especially given that we are all supposed to be scientists: those who systematically direct their curiosity to discover everything they can about an object of inquiry. And one would think that the success of one’s own career–especially in an environent that everyone understands is more brutally competitive than it has ever been before–would be a particularly interesting object of inquiry.

I’ve never understood this.


  1. aspidoscelis says

    Most scientists I know prefer to spend their time learning about science. If they’d wanted to spend that time learning about bureaucracy, they’d probably not have become scientists.

  2. says

    Part of being a scientist is learning the bureaucracy, the politics, and what rules you can break.

  3. pinus says

    PITA = pain in the ass.

    Time spent learning how the NIH works pays off in spades when you have money to run your lab and do the work that interests you.

  4. DrugMonkey says

    It has an “open” and “closed” part Dr Becca. You can’t read up on why your Science Enemy got picked up at a 45%ile score or anything. But the big picture for future directions is usually there .

  5. anon says

    “I find the NIH website a wee bit of a PITA to navigate.”

    It’s a piece of cake compared to the NSF. Those motherfuckers make it impossible to navigate anything. I think they do it intentionally as part of their screening process, especially since they have only 1/10th of the NIH budget to work with.

  6. Permadoc McFailurepants says

    “Most scientists I know prefer to spend their time learning about science.”

    Yeah, most scientists I know think they’re too good for that beancounting shit, too.

    Which is why most scientists I know are on foodstamps, or soon will be.

    Well, to be fair, it’s one of several reasons, not all of which can be blamed on the scientists in question. But still; take it from me, either you pay attention to the system or the system will fuck you up.

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