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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • That's a very interesting anecdote. Let me add another.

    I'm in science. Fundamental research. That means normally, considerations such as that of the vice president in your story don't apply at all. You just try hard to get it correct or at least as right as possible. When you're done, you have to work even harder to get an idea of how correct your result is.

    Just recently, there was an update to a measurement database I need for my analysis. It changed my results WAY outside of the uncertainty bounds I had calculated. It has taken me weeks to months to understand why. Now, with much help from others, I think I understand the change. It's a bug fix. Can I now publish my results using this new, known-to-be-more-correct database of measurements? Should I extrapolate from the past and increase the estimate of my systematic uncertainty? Wait for another update to see whether my dependencies stabilize? Suddenly it's no longer a simple "get it right" thing. I have to take into account that if I publish this and another update invalidates it, that's hugely embarrassing. Not publishing means a lot of time was wasted and other people's confidence in my method and work will decline.

    This is to say: Even with no economic issues at hand and working as scientific as you humanly can, such precedures, decisions and results will be influenced by non scientific (or non-technical) reasoning.

    (Let's not even talk about the politics of large scientific collaborations.)

    • You mention "no economic issues", but economics is just the study of the efficient allocation of scarce resources, not money. Whoever is "first to market" often wins. Plus, even though people don't think that economics takes people into account (though institutional economics [wikipedia.org] does), it often does. I don't think our anecdotes are that far off.

      Side note: if you've any interest in economics, I highly recommend reading up about institutional economics. Even if you don't agree with it (which I do, to be hone