Work eludes me; pneumonia plagues me; and the troubles of family follow.
I sit here working out the possible implications of laying out much of my work that I want to do with oviraptorids, setting out possible muscle masses, moments, and lines of action and work out mechanically the actions of an oviraptorid jaw — by far, the single most engrossing thing I want to do. If I do, I end up doing exactly what i hear many others in paleo worry about: getting “scooped,” having their processes of thought or novel experimentation or insights rendered as though original to the reader. Perhaps I quibble a little too much.
Science is a process by which people learn and reveal — to themselves, to others — and eventually learn from the fallacies pf their results. And there will be fallacies. So Science wins only when it is exposed, not bottled up in dark caves. When Newton shined a candleflame through a prism, it’s not that he wanted to keep the results secret (or that he was the first and rushed to say he was) but that he wanted to expose the light inherent to the candle, and figure out what was going on. You cannot do that in darkness, and that’s sort of an essential truth.
I think, in typical Zen fashion, that the result is what matters. I don’t need my name attached to an idea, and am glad instead to be a part of the process, even if a footstool. (See? footstools are useful! You cannot climb on the backs of giants without a leg up!) I don’t need the concordant fame or attention or grant money. I know some want it, and that is the only way they are ever going to get it, and they do this to survive, profess, and carry on. If the process of keeping one’s job is a loss of a portion of one’s soul (a deal Faust respected damned be to the consequences) then that is their choice. But it becomes difficult to reconcile this with the idea, the philosophy, that is espoused: that Science’s goal is to make better of Humanity. We can say to ourselves that nothing we do can, by itself, change the course of what evil a person can commit; but we hope that in the course of its doing, Science betters the lives of others, and shields and shelters more.
I cannot have this ideal, and hold others to it, much as it plagues me to see work stolen in some casual sense: The profession of Science requires progressive revelation by its own actions; Science as both God and penitent. Those people do further Science by some level of commission. Where I stand — stood? — is on the razor-thin margin between wanting Science done, and being its instrument. Observer and doer. Where should I stand? Where do you?