Science Plays Now. Long Game. But

At the very least, I was hoping for research that might aid those in need. As a result, the science underlying mental health care didn’t move in a straight line during my time in the position.

Many notable findings have been made in the study of brain injury patients who appear to be unresponsive; the first convincing concept of schizophrenia’s origin has been proposed based on a study of brain biology.

Access to Therapies Increased Significantly.

Science Plays Now. Long Game. But

As a counterbalance, the advancement of science did little to help the countless numbers of people who suffer from chronic mental illness. Rates of suicide, anxiety, sadness and psychiatric prescription use all went in the wrong direction even while access to therapies increased significantly.

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What’s going on here? I have a few opinions and some ideas about what could be required to turn things around after 20 years of reporting on the subject.

To put it another way: The federal government is doubling down in its efforts to identify biological signatures or “blood tests” for mental health diagnoses that could one day be beneficial, all while people in crisis are being put in harm’s way because of their mental health issues.

… The outcomes of these kinds of large-scale scientific endeavours are laudable, but the payoffs are extremely unpredictable. “Big-money brain research” was coined by late psychologist and sceptic Scott Lilienfeld, who coined his own nomenclature for such endeavours.

They were either fishing trips or Hail Marys, he would tell me. ‘You have a choice.’ If you’re in danger of drowning, you’re more concerned with a life preserver than you are with the genetics of respiration.

The Meaning of “Science Plays Now. Long Game. But”

The phrase “Science plays now. Long game. But” can be broken down to understand its meaning more comprehensively:

  1. Science Plays Now: This part of the phrase emphasizes that science is actively engaged in the present moment. Scientists are constantly conducting experiments, making observations, and developing theories to expand our knowledge and address current challenges. Science is not a passive endeavor but an ongoing, dynamic process.
  2. Long Game: “Long game” signifies that science operates with a focus on the long-term, recognizing that meaningful discoveries and solutions often take time to materialize. Scientific progress is not driven solely by short-term gains but by the pursuit of enduring knowledge and sustainable solutions.
  3. But: The word “but” suggests a contrast or qualification. In this context, it highlights the patience and persistence required in scientific endeavors. It acknowledges that while science may not yield immediate results, its long-term approach is valuable and essential.

Key Principles of Science’s Long-Term Perspective

To fully understand the significance of science playing the long game, it’s essential to delve into the key principles that underpin this approach:

  1. Accumulative Knowledge: Science builds upon existing knowledge. Each scientific discovery contributes to a growing body of knowledge that future generations of scientists can leverage. This cumulative process leads to deeper insights and a more comprehensive understanding of the world.
  2. Rigorous Methodology: Science adheres to rigorous methodologies and standards of evidence. It prioritizes careful experimentation, data collection, and peer review to ensure the validity and reliability of findings. This commitment to methodological rigor may slow down the pace of progress but ensures the accuracy of results.
  3. Complex Problem Solving: Many of the challenges facing humanity are complex and multifaceted. Scientific solutions often require in-depth analysis, collaboration across disciplines, and innovative approaches. These endeavors may span years or even decades.
  4. Sustainability: Science is deeply concerned with sustainability and the long-term well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. Issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion require sustained efforts to understand and address effectively.
  5. Ethical Considerations: Science takes ethical considerations seriously. Researchers must navigate complex ethical dilemmas, ensuring that their work aligns with ethical principles and promotes the greater good. Ethical deliberation can add time to the research process but is essential for responsible science.
  6. Continuous Improvement: Scientific progress is iterative, with researchers constantly refining their hypotheses, experiments, and theories. The pursuit of knowledge is never-ending, and scientists remain open to revising their understanding in light of new evidence.

Impact and Examples of Science’s Long-Term Approach

The long-term perspective of science has had profound impacts on numerous aspects of human society and the natural world. Here are some examples that illustrate the significance of this approach:

  1. Medical Discoveries: Scientific research in medicine and healthcare has led to groundbreaking discoveries over the years. These include the development of vaccines, the understanding of genetic diseases, and advancements in treatments for chronic conditions. While these breakthroughs take time, they have had a lasting impact on global health.
  2. Environmental Conservation: Environmental science and ecology employ long-term research to understand ecosystems and biodiversity. This knowledge is critical for conservation efforts and sustainable land use planning.
  3. Space Exploration: Space agencies such as NASA engage in long-term projects to explore the cosmos. Missions like the Mars rovers and the Hubble Space Telescope have expanded our understanding of the universe, even though they require years of planning and execution.
  4. Climate Science: Climate science takes a long-term perspective to study climate patterns and trends. This research is crucial for addressing climate change, guiding policy decisions, and developing sustainable practices.
  5. Energy Research: The quest for clean and renewable energy sources is a long-term scientific endeavor. Researchers continuously explore new technologies and materials to develop more efficient and sustainable energy solutions.
  6. Basic Research: Basic scientific research, often devoid of immediate practical applications, plays a vital role in advancing knowledge. These foundational discoveries may lead to unexpected breakthroughs in the future.

Challenges and Rewards of Playing the Long Game in Science

While science’s long-term perspective yields valuable rewards, it also presents challenges:

  1. Funding Constraints: Long-term research often requires sustained financial support, which can be challenging to secure. Funding agencies and institutions must recognize the value of patient, enduring research.
  2. Delayed Impact: Scientific discoveries may not yield immediate results or solutions. Researchers must have the patience to wait for their work to influence policies, industries, or society as a whole.
  3. Ethical Considerations: Ethical dilemmas in science can be complex and require careful navigation. Researchers must dedicate time and effort to address ethical issues in their work.
  4. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Complex problems often require collaboration across disciplines. Building and maintaining interdisciplinary teams can be challenging but is essential for comprehensive solutions.
  5. Public Engagement: Communicating the importance of long-term scientific research to the public can be a challenge. Scientists must engage effectively with the public to garner support and understanding.

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Last Words

If the sciences of behaviour and brain research are to become more important in people’s lives, how might they begin to do so? Some famous scientists who are aware of the need will have to speak more openly about the influence of money on research goals.

For their part, funders must pay attention and maybe finance more small teams striving to develop the psychological equivalent of a life preserver: treatments, supports, and technologies that could be adopted soon.

Binge drinking, gambling, and overeating are all popular ways for people to self-medicate since the effects are predictable.

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