Over-researching, sparrow and toothpaste

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From wechat, I read a friend’s tweet of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). It is an organization directly affiliated to the State Council for the management of the National Natural Science Fund. Apparently getting funding from NSFC is a very important key performance indicator so every one in his research university is burying his/her head writing proposals over the last week. This is becoming a mass movement to support an administrative policy to support STEM innovation.

I heard of two other mass movements in response to administration before. One was the mass killing of sparrows in 1950’s. The central administrator decided sparrow was a harmful animal and should be eliminated. For a while people spent all their spare time looking for poor sparrows unaware of their coming tragedy. I would not want to be a sparrow in 1950’s.

The other was the donation of empty toothpaste tube in 1980s’, answering the government’s calling for aluminium. Every household was in huge rush using toothpaste as fast as possible so that one could donate the empty tubes to contribute to national GDP. One family donated 20 toothpaste tubes over a week. I was taking every chance to find out if their teeth had become extra white.

I am not in academics so I don’t know if STEM innovation can be toothpaste. If one presses the tube harder, it comes out more.

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