OA Advocates and “Pure Drivel”

When a comedian's parody makes more sense than the parody OA advocates have created.

A recent article trumpeting the need for OA starts with this sentence, which seems to have been tossed off without a lot of thought:

Our research activities would be better served if they were communicated in a manner that is openly accessible to the public and all researchers.

The rest of the paper makes a litany of questionable assumptions and assertions, which is basically par for the course with by-the-book OA advocacy.

By sheer coincidence, this article came across my desk the same day I pulled off the shelf my old copy of Steve Martin’s 1998 collection of humorous essays, Pure Drivel. I hadn’t read it since it was released, and thought I’d revisit it as bedtime reading for the week.

Martin likes to puncture sophisticated ideas and skewer pomposity, so science is a natural target. One of the humorous essays is called, “Schrödinger’s Cat,” and it takes us through a set of bizarre alternatives, such as “Wittgenstein’s Banana.”

Another entry entitled, “The Nature of Matter and Its Antecedents” is relevant here. In this, the personality referred to as “Steve Martin” is searching for his next big thing, and his agent suggests:

Well, maybe you could write something on matter, or the nature of matter. Cruise is doing something on reverse DNA. You could do something too. Maybe better.