Clinical trials Medicine Science fiction/fantasy

What researchers really mean

Ha! So true, although in academia we aren’t so much concerned with getting products into consumers’ hands; so the exact times may be different:


Via xkcd, of course!

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

10 replies on “What researchers really mean”

I always figured that when someone said “we will have X in 10 years” that 10 years meant indefinite future. See, AIDS vaccines, Stem Cells to cure anything, flying cars, etc.

“Strong AI” (a phrase I hate) definitely falls into the “it has not been conclusively proven impossible” category. As it happens, 20-25 years is the usual estimate AI researchers give journalists.

Knowing xkcd, Randall Munroe probably noticed that too.

Regarding the last point, yeah, it seems like pure research without application is the area that really allows applications to be built.

I love the history of forecasts about controlled fusion power. In the 60s physicists (notably Teller and Dyson) often claimed it was 20 years away. In the 70s it was 25 years away. In the 80s it was 30 years away. In the 90s it was 40 years away. Last I heard (2005 or so), it was 50 years away. Perhaps we should stop funding research into controlled fusion power before it gets any further away.

As far as controlled fusion goes.. given the pathetic amount of funding compared to the potential benefits it’s not surprising.

Mind you, breeder reactors in various forms – which are a technology capable of stopping AGW with minimal end-user impact – have been around for decades without actually getting used.

minor quibble: When posting an XKCD comic, you should also post the “alt” tag he supplies, as that often contains more silliness.

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