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At the leading edge of any science, there is an element of faith that what we are doing will eventually turn out right and its assumptions prove to be true.
But on this leading edge is also a group of people who have invested time and effort and prestige to get where they are. This group won’t like being proven wrong and they will fight against it. That is what any orthodoxy does. It protects itself, and dislodging it can become messy.
I believe we all have an image of science as a sort of gleaming machine, polished and pure, which rolls along as if by itself. Fake news is not for science! But is that really so? Let’s have a closer look.
There is an inexhaustible requirement to publish, as if getting into print were the only way to advance a career. It used to be said in Italy — at least for the social sciences, and in all seriousness—that to become a professor, you had to publish two-and-a-half kilos of papers. And although, of course, this does not apply to our orthopedic world, we might say, like Marcellus to Horatio, that ‘something is rotten in the State of Denmark.’1
The same pressures are definitely there: the need to publish, to get one’s name in to print, and to be first in line to receive research grants. How many articles are really worth reading, and how many are just there to build up someone’s ‘portfolio’?
And then there’s the problem of language. George Orwell wrote: ‘English is a beautiful language, but it can be corrupted and made ugly by foolish ideas and, having been corrupted, it can only express more foolishness…2’
How many times have you wrestled with the mangled language of an abstract, trying to work …
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