Today was one of those days.
The details are too boring to go into here, details that are common to an academic life in the research sector. What is it that they say? Money and space. That's all it comes down to.
There is little thought of the pineapple lily, blooming away on a warm June day. There is little thought of such a photogenic little flower - because it doesn't provide my lab money, and it doesn't provide any space. It doesn't keep the lab stocked with PCR reagants and disposable and sequencing funds.
But this little flower - the pineapple lily's stalk of little flowers - is exquisite in everyway.
But enough of that. The day ended better than I thought it may have.
And towards the end of such a stressful day, I received an email from my friend over at 3Dsound: Draggin' the Line about something that gives me chills.
It concerns a faculty member at my alma mater, Michigan State University, and at attempt by another to suggest that his studies on evolution are fraudulent. You can begin this chilling tale by reading the article over at salon.com, and when you're done there - it is well worth your time to head over to here and read the exchange between Lenski and Andy Schlafly. Of significance is the request by Mr Schlafly for Professor Lenski to make his data available. From Mr. Schlafly's request, dated June 13, 2008 and posted here:
Submission guidelines for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science state that "(viii) Materials and Data Availability. To allow others to replicate and build on work published in PNAS, authors must make materials, data, and associated protocols available to readers. Authors must disclose upon submission of the manuscript any restrictions on the availability of materials or information." Also, your work was apparently funded by taxpayers, providing further reason for making the data publicly available.
Please post the data supporting your remarkable claims so that we can review it, and note where in the data you find justification for your conclusions.
I can only say that this sort of request from a non-scientist is chilling - perhaps even insidious. As 3D mentioned in his email, you 'contact the author of a paper that you don't like', 'demand the author's data', and 'when the author fails to kowtow to your *every* possible request', well, the requestor can 'demand an inquiry into how public funds are being abused'. It's pretty evident from the exchange that Schlafly had not even read Lenski's work.
It's really worth reading the exchange. Lenski handled it well (and head over to Daily Kos to read an interesting post about his work - or to NewScientist to read a recent news blurb about Lenski and his research group's discovery -- or better yet, find the primary article if you have access).
This kind of thing can give well-intentioned scientists nightmares. Money, space...and now this.
Update, 1 July (morning): Head over to 3Dsound for some additional comments and links.
Update, 1 July (evening): Another post that I found interesting on the topic - from over at a Candid World. Okay, and you've got to take a look at Conservapedia's entry on Richard Lenski. Absurd. Oh - and now there is the Lenski Affair (read towards the end - about the censoring).
(Okay, I'm a week late about this. But geez, I've been busy).