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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July

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Posted by Derek

This, at least, I have observed in forty-five years: that there are men who search for it [truth], whatever it is, wherever it may lie, patiently, honestly, with due humility, and that there are other men who battle endlessly to put it down, even though they don't know what it is. To the first class belong the scientists, the experimenters, the men of curiosity. To the second belong politicians, bishops, professors, mullahs, tin pot messiahs, frauds and exploiters of all sorts - in brief, the men of authority. . .All I find there is a vast enmity to the free functioning of the spirit of man. There may be, for all I know, some truth there, but it is truth made into whips, rolled into bitter pills. . .

I find myself out of sympathy with such men. I shall keep on challenging them until the last galoot's ashore.

- H. L. Mencken, "Off the Grand Banks", 1925

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. satan on July 4, 2008 6:02 PM writes...

Maybe the second group list has to be updated with scientists turned administrators, special interest groups, environmentalists, activists, feminists, lawyers, MBAs and sophists of all kinds.

Permalink to Comment

2. TX Raven on July 5, 2008 6:47 AM writes...

I totally support the first line item in your statement.
Indeed, I believe that's the 600 pound gorilla in the drug discovery room.
The "ego" that plays such an important part motivating an upcoming scientist to get better as a scientist becomes their Achilles heel when they become supervisors and forget that their role has changed. Their huge egos become their worst enemies. They force political rather than scientific decisions down the throats of the people they supervise instead of letting them make their own decisions.

IMHO the debacle of our industry is not scientific in nature, but it rather reflects a character flaw in our leaders. To fix this, improving the science is not the bottle neck, but rather improving the people factors which send down the drain the best scientific efforts.

Happy 4th!

Permalink to Comment

3. retread on July 5, 2008 8:03 AM writes...

My mother went to Goucher College in Baltimore in the 20's when Mencken was writing for the Baltimore Sun. She and her friends lived for his columns.

Mencken liked to drink and hated the prohibitionists. One semi-quote (which I can't source or quote exactly)

"The humble swineherd will drive us all into his pen." Burkha's anyone?

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4. milkshake on July 5, 2008 11:41 PM writes...

I guess its all about passing on one's genes or sumthing.

You know, the cheats, the frauds, the shysters and demagogs, the pompous fools and bullies - they are all just imperfect human beings and they, too, want to be loved, admired and understood. And they too will be good, deep down.

When all is said and done, when the fight is lost (or won) and the life itself is gone.

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5. Fries with That? on July 6, 2008 1:56 PM writes...

Good managers are the ones who know how to handle reality and have enough confidence in their team to not scapegoat individuals when things don't turn out the way everyone had hoped.

Nothing is so tedious as having to defend a result that is showing the "wrong" outcome. One can spend an eternity in conference rooms and behind closed doors pointing fingers at people, pipets, buffers, the phase of the moon, the passage of the cells, etc only to repeat the experiment several times more and still show the magic bullet that would make top management millions is not so magic after all.

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6. HelicalZz on July 7, 2008 8:14 AM writes...

And just for fun on the topic (the 4th, not the quote which was a good one).

The Chemistry of Fireworks


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7. Kent G. Budge on July 7, 2008 1:48 PM writes...

I have been too long in the scientific community to be so naively trustful of them as Mencken appears to be.

Scientists are also human, and so they are also sometimes corrupt, venal, or weak.

And there is the occasional politician, bishop, or so forth who is *not* corrupt, venal, or weak.

Humility becomes any of us.

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