Researchers with loads of grants insist that we should give them more

BETHESDA.  A bunch of rich, well-funded scientists, led by Ron “Jermaine” Jackson, have insisted that the best way to do science is simply to keep giving them money, and to hell with everyone else.

Called “fund people not projects”, the proposal aims to channel funds towards people with a track record of success, i.e. well funded, old professors who are now too arrogant to be bothered with concepts such as accountability and succession.

“Just look at me” said Ron.  “Look. At. Me.  My track record is incredible, because, well I’m awesome.  So why not just give me more money to be more awesome?  Don’t bother with stupid stuff like ideas or plans or proposals or risk management or any crap like that – they’re a waste of time and money.  Just show me the money, baby.  SHOW ME THE MONEY!” he finished.

Likely to be the final nail in the coffin of the careers of all young scientists, who by their very definition have no track record, the proposal has come under attack from pretty much everyone who isn’t an old, tenured professor with millions of dollars of funding already.  Despite this, the proposal is likely to go ahead because, well, the old bastards are in control, aren’t they?

Rick Spatson, from the University of Edinburgh, had a different view: “Maybe, just maybe, the solution to all of the problems in scientific research isn’t to give all the money to the people who fcuked it up in the first place.  Maybe we should give less money to the old idiots who screwed it all up and left the next generation with a cesspit of irreproducible research published in closed-access glamour mags.  Maybe we should instead invest in the young, the next-generation of idealistic, open scientists.  What do you think?  Do you think that’s maybe a better idea?”

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“We’ve bought every single piece of cool kit and still no-one calls”, says genome centre

SOUTH EAST.  A genome centre has complained that despite investing millions of tax-payers money buying every single piece of cool genomics kit that’s ever been produced, in a seemingly random fashion, still nobody calls them and the kit remains in its plastic wrapping.

The Centre for Analysing Things (TCAT) was set up ten years ago to carry out genome sequencing, and was initially famous for stealing sequencing machines from Sanger’s bins.  However, subsequently TCAT have jumped on every single bandwagon, backed by millions of pounds from their funders, including metabolomics, single cell sequencing, big data, gamification, training and HPC.

“The problem is” said Daniel Goose, head of tools and platform 9¾ “no-one has every called, nor e-mailed.  Not a single person.  Not one person.  No-one wants to collaborate with us.  All this stuff, going right back to the SOLiDs, is still in its packaging.  We’re more like a museum than anything else.  Luckily we kept the receipts, so maybe we can get a refund” he finished.

Matt “Clark” Kent, head of new technologies, who is also superman, said “I have loads of cool ideas.  Literally tons of really cool things I could do with these machines.  I just need someone, anyone, to send us a sample.  Just one.  I just want some DNA.  Please?”.

When The ScienceWeb visited we found the entire bioinformatics department immersed in a huge game of World of Warcraft, which they had running on their SGI Ultra 10Tb RAM machine, bought primarily to aid in genome assembly.

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Mouse ENCODE puts a contract out on Yoav Gilad

CALIFORNIA.  Shady underworld science organisation ENCODE has put out a contract on Yoav Gilad with a price of $100,000 D.O.A. (dead or alive).  The ScienceWeb understands that several of the world’s greatest hitmen are now making their way to Chicago, and Gilad has been placed under FBI protection at an unknown location.

Speaking from a cave hidden in his volcanic island hideaway, Mike Snyder, whilst stroking a white cat, had this to say: “Yoav is dead man.  Period.  You do not cross ENCODE like that.  No man can do that and live.  He disrespected me and my organisation and for that he will pay with his life.  Mwahahahahaha!”

Last year, Snyder and his cronies published a paper in PNAS (Proceedings of Not-very Acceptable Science) claiming that mice were mice, men were men, and everything within a mouse is so mousey that it’s more mouse than anything else.  Gilad proceeded to dismantle the science completely, eventually showing that the PNAS authors hadn’t really generated any data at all and had basically made it all up in Excel.

Gilad, wearing a red cape and blue spandex suit, said: “The ENCODE results were clearly nonsense.  I don’t care that I’ll never work again, will need face-changing surgery and will spend the rest of my life as ‘Susan’ working in a bar in Manchester.  I couldn’t let them get away with it.  The results were wrong, just plain wrong”.

The ScienceWeb have made the location of Snyder’s secret island available to the FBI.

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Old privileged idiots defend Tim Hunt and call for sexism to be brought back

LONDON, UK.  A bunch of hugely privileged, pampered old men who have had every single advantage in life, and who have no experience of discrimination in any form, have rushed to the defence of Tim Hunt and called for sexism to be brought back into mainstream culture.

Last month Tim Hunt said something like “Birds are shit at science because they’re constantly thinking about my winky”.  He immediately faced quite reasonable criticism on Twitter, and responded by saying “It was a joke, but I meant it”.  As previous sexist comments from Hunt emerged, he was asked to resign from several high profile jobs that he absolutely doesn’t need, being a 73-year old rich white man with a Nobel prize.

Today, several other old privileged idiots have jumped to Hunt’s defence.  Sir Andre Geim has criticised the response as “ideological”.  When asked what ideology he referred to, he said that “certain people hold the unreasonable view that men and women should be treated equally.  That’s a nonsense ideology and wouldn’t have happened in my day, when men were men and women were quiet”

Jack Szostak of Harvard expressed concern that “one stupid comment” could create a firestorm and force someone to resign.  When it was pointed out that Hunt had a history of sexist comments and repeated his assertion in multiple media outlets, Szostak mumbled something about how he “had never been very good at math”

Avram Hershko, an Israeli scientist, tried to point out that Hunt had been “very unfairly treated”.  “The problem with you guys is you allowed women in the lab in the first place” he continued.  “That’s the problem, none of this would have happened had you kept women in the kitchen, making soup” he finished.

Two other Nobel laureates called for sexism to be brought back.  In a statement, Randy Schekman, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Sir Anthony Leggett, University of Illinois, called for “an end to this equality nonsense”.  “It’s political correctness gone mad.  Women and men are quite obviously not equal – I mean, just think about it, I have a winkything and they have tittiewitties!  Men and women are different, it’s obvious!”.  Leggett added “It’s about time sexism was brought back into science.  Think about it – most of the historical, wonderful scientific discoveried, like gravity and the fact the World is round, were made by men during times of sexism.  Bring it back, that’s what I say!”

The ScienceWeb were left quite speechless.

NB: the quotes above may not actually be real


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Scientist wants to sack everyone who is not good at Math

Berkeley.  After challenging everyone in the world to a fight, and subsequently defeating all opponents, all-American wrestling hero Lior “the lion” Pachter now wants to sack everyone who is not good at Math.

Fresh from his campaign to destroy all living entities with the first name “Manolis”, on his blog (which leaves even rocket scientists scratching their heads in confusion) Lior stated that anyone who is even vaguely bad at math should be immediately sacked and preferably removed from the planet.

“The reason we don’t have aliens here right now is because no-one can do math anymore” he raged, incoherently.  “They are embarrassed to come here.  We don’t understand p-values; we can’t build networks properly; why would they come here?  Why would they think we are worthy of speaking to if we can’t even do math?” he finished.

When asked if aliens speak to him because he is good at math, Lior refused to answer, and just quietly placed a tin-foil hat over his head.

Meanwhile, over on his blog, professional fence-sitter Joe Pickle had no idea whether he agreed with Lior or not.

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Universities introduce form to fill in before you are allowed to speak

Edinburgh, SCOTLAND.  All Universities are to introduce a form that all academics must fill in, and have signed off, before they are allowed to speak, TheScienceWeb has learned.  The form not only covers academic presentations, but also all conversations held on a daily basis.

“Basically, the new rules are simple” said Julie Obsworth, of the Federation of Universities UK (FUUK).  “If someone asks you a question, any question, or you have the urge to say something, anything, then you must first fill in the form.  Once the form has been approved and signed off by your line manager, the communications committee and the Principal, you can say the words” she finished.

When asked how often the communications committee met to consider such requests, Julie replied “every quarter”.

“If you are asked a question, then you must write down the question in full, including any context.  Please then also propose your answer.  The committee will consider whether your answer a) could represent a legal problem, and b) fits in with the University’s tone of voice.  We will then present you with an updated, edited answer, one that better suits the University’s goals” she continued.

“If you have an urge to say something without being prompted, then we would urge you to a) not do that, and b) refer to the University’s 192-page policy document on communication.  If, having considered both of those issues, you still want to say something, then fill in part B of the form and the committee will decide whether it is appropriate or not” Julie explained.

“Basically, if you are in any doubt, and you are about to make any noise at all – fill in the form” she finished.

We tried in vain to get a response from academics to this news, but none of them would say a single word to us….

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Daily Roundup: aliens already have sequencers in space; Thermo to launch Ion Torrent into stratosphere; Scientists predict space bugs

TheScienceWeb daily round-up

Aliens have responded to the news that Oxford Nanopore and NASA are to send USB sequencers into space by saying that they’ve had sequencers in space for thousands of years and are amused by the efforts of tiny humans.

“I think it is wonderful that finally humanity is catching up” said Zarg, Chief Scientist of the Zargonian fleet.  “They are only a few thousand years late.  The tiny MinION USB sequencer may be light-years ahead of anything else on Earth, but it is still a long way from matching our Zargonian technology.  We’ve been sequencing space for 1000s of years, there’s nothing up here except Bradyrhizobium” (s)he finished (Ed: it was impossible to tell)

In related news, Thermo Fisher have decided to launch Ion Torrent into the stratosphere.  A representative had this to say: “After ONT’s decision to launch a MinION into space, we had an idea – why don’t we launch Ion Torrent into space too?  I don’t mean one sequencer – I mean the entire f*cking company.  Let’s just get rid of it, turn it into space junk and pretend this whole sorry mess never happened”

Finally, a group from the Institute of Psychic Microbiology have predicted the entire list of bacteria that ONT and NASA are likely to find in space.  Table 1 in this paper, published even before the ONT/NASA collaboration was announced, predicts all of the genera likely to be found in space.  “I see the future” said Spikey Mox, one of the leaders of the study from King’s University Imperial College of London.  “I see the future” he repeated, “and it’s yellow” he finished, mysteriously.


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