Research and Its Impact or Lack Thereof

They say that ignorance is bliss. But really, the more you ignore a problem or an issue, the jarring and overwhelmingly apparent it becomes. Undeniably visibly present like a zit on your face. It becomes hard to ignore and even harder to resolve.

Being a researcher have me taken a glimpse into some of these problems. Where all of our efforts in putting facts in place for the world to make a better decision, fail in the hands of conspiracy theorists and satisfying self-interests.

Let me take you into the world of scientists. It takes a lot of money to research a disease for example and that is difficult to come by. With reagents that can cost up to $100 per vial (or more depending on the quality of the product) of a 10 microlitre solution (slightly more than a raindrop) you can expect a project to be up to hundred thousand dollars. The application of getting funding is competitive and also depends on the prestige of the principal investigator. I forgot to mention that our pay is also dependant on the funding. So hours of research, severely underpaid and now the main issue of this whole entire thing: the impact of research or lack thereof.

It is very appalling to have the research we have done getting debunked by people in under a minute. Rumours and false claims can spread like wildfire in the social media arena and it feels like the time and money spent on the research just dissipate into thin air. Moreover, to other fellow scientists studying climate change, they are the ones receiving the hardest hit. As scientists, we have to learn to navigate through the public by how we communicate our findings to a layperson and that is to answer this particular question: what is the significance of your research? Meaning, why do I need to invest in your research?

As appalling as it seems, the society preferably loves entertainment more than anything. And I do not the deny how addictive entertainment is. It is just that there is no equity in the investment of the pursuit of knowledge (in some countries). The intention for scientists ultimately is to make this world a better place and to try and save all of you. But where do all these knowledge we have discovered going? Unfortunately, the society thinks that when a problem is undeniably visible, that is when they start to invest on researching on it. But research in itself is a long process. There are checkpoints to validate the accuracy of the data. We cannot simply churn out information in the matter of seconds without missing out adversities and important problems.

Policymakers should understand that we researchers are trying to build a better society with our research. Do not invalidate us just to satisfy your self-interests or to appease the society temporarily. Scientists are so passionately involved in their work that some of them still continue to think about their research even when they retire. These are valuable people to the society. People may question, why do you need a scientist to study every species of trees, a specific virus or even a specific coral? You will never know when you need that information when problems arise. What if the tree has medicinal property which can be used to treat cancer? And if all of them has been cut down, then how are we to ever find that out? Knowledge is limitless and our brains are insufficient to contain all of these, hence, we have scientists in every field imaginable.

So, we should never dismiss the usefulness of knowledge no matter the field. We as a society should be more appreciative of the time taken for researchers to explore these questions and find solutions. We should be more considerate to our environment and the people around us. We are so fortunate to have others who care so much about us, trying to uphold and defend harm from ever befalling on us. Be more conscious in our choices and treat them better.


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