Pokemon More Reviewed Than Science

Michael Nielsen has penned a very thoughtful essay on how the internet age will change how science is performed. Having sloppily dabbled in a website which allowed for rating of scientific papers, I think Michael’s observations about why “review” sites for scientific papers are a tough sell (what reward do I get for commenting on a paper, exactly?) are spot on. I also liked his comparison of science review sites and reviews of Pokemon products:

The contrast between the science comment sites and the success of the amazon.com reviews is stark. To pick just one example, you’ll find approximately 1500 reviews of Pokemon products at amazon.com, more than the total number of reviews on all the scientific comment sites I described above. The disincentives facing scientists have led to a ludicrous situation where popular culture is open enough that people feel comfortable writing Pokemon reviews, yet scientific culture is so closed that people will not publicly share their opinions of scientific papers. Some people find this contrast curious or amusing; I believe it signifies something seriously amiss with science, something we need to understand and change.

This entry was posted in Science, Science 2.0. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Pokemon More Reviewed Than Science

  1. XPM says:

    Perhaps this might just possibly be because Pokemon is mass-marketed fluff while most scientific papers require extensive background research to understand.

    The disincentives facing scientists have led to a ludicrous situation where popular culture is open enough that people feel comfortable writing Pokemon reviews, yet scientific culture is so closed that people will not publicly share their opinions of scientific papers. Some people find this contrast curious or amusing; I believe it signifies something seriously amiss with science, something we need to understand and change

    Perhaps a line of trading cards, a new game for the Nintendo Wii and a tie-in anime on WB network would be of help.

    Slow day at the office?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Kea says:

    Hear, hear! Honest opinions of papers should never affect one’s career prospects, and clearly benefits science. But we don’t live in such An Establishment. Far from it. Common advice given to young researchers is to ‘hold one’s tongue’ or not to be ‘too idealistic’. I once had an advisor lecture me (I’m older than him) on how he ‘knew how the world works’, while planning a lecture in Theoretical Physics that addressed the marketing needs of the university. I can’t possibly recall how many times I have been completely gobsmacked by the total lack of understanding of science by professionals with tenure. Let’s hope Web II brings change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Ian Durham says:

    I would say SciRate is more than dabbling. It’s exactly the sort of thing Michael is calling for and I think you’ve done an admirable job. While the comments are not as plentiful as could be, the ratings certainly garner some attention. It’s at least a step in the right direction, as is Quantalk.org and their open peer-review system.

    As for trading cards, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) already puts out a line of trading cards with famous physicists on them. I’ve got a vintage John Bell if anyone wants it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. I learned to play Pokemon to be able to join my son in a card game tournament years and years ago.

    Little kids, maybe 8 to 10 years old, thoroughly smashed me in the game.

    Not just cute anime.

    Rumors of a Live Action version of the Pokemon Movie, with Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell.

    Solution: beyond the famous physicist trading cards, develop the game — call it Einstein Sleeps With Marilyn Monroe — and have competition on TV. Another game show: “Are You Smarter than a Quantum Physicist?”

    As a trailer, see that documentary on Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), triggered by his book Frames of Mind (1983). The theory posits seven distinct and universal capacities. The notion of “emotional IQ” has penetrated pop culture. Recently, Howard Gardner added an 8th cdapacity, Spiritual Intelligence. Very important to any Quantum Pontiff.

    The (made for TV?) documentary is a competition between a Quantum Physicist, a playwright, a dancer, a Psychologist, a chess grandmaster, and so forth. On the written IQ test, the Quantum Physicist has the highest score.

    Then they switch to a Multiple Intelligences test. Example: put on those prism-goggles that make everything look upside-down. Now pour a glass of water from a pitcher, and throw a basketball through a hoop.

    The showed this in my grad course “Foundations of Special Education.” The Quantum Physicist looked familiar. Finally they identified him as Seth Lloyd. “Hey, I know that guy!” I blurted. I got an email from a classmate, mightily impressed that I even knew a Quantum Physicist.

    Sure there are more Pokemon Blogs than Science blogs. I’ve made half-baked suggestions on how to approach parity. But I would not try to convince Pokemon fans to be more like Quantum Physics. They already think that they are learning something about (I kid you not) Evolution.

    Finally, Pokemon did not hurt our son at all. I boasted about his multiple degrees in earlier threads. To complain about the popularity of Pokemon is a silly as complaining about Harry Potter. Success is success. If it gets kids reading, or thinking, then we scientists are net winners. And I don’t mean the basketball net, while wearing those inverting glasses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>