Dear Colleagues,

When I was working in the chemical industry, my company was often confronted 
with very difficult competitive situations. The response of some co-workers was 
to propose projects which offered rapid, low-cost, almost magic solutions. 
Unfortunately, these people offered no scientific evidence to support the 
projects: some references were made to outdated or inaccessible research, 
others to circular self-confirming reports by other members of the in-group (A 
confirms B, B confirms C, C confirms A, etc.). Over-determination was a 
frequent strategy: by ascribing apparently exact properties to or an exact 
place and time of the alleged support, these people attempted to get further 
credibility for it.  Another characteristic was their totalitarian approach: 
not the slightest point was allowed to be questioned, when a simple second 
experiment would have immediately revealed the error in it. A final typical 
characteristic was that the proponents of the projects stood to gain 
substantial personal rewards in salary and position, regardless of the 
outcomes. While the projects of the kind I describe were eventually rejected by 
management, much time and effort in terms of scarce resources in personnel and 
facilities (pilot plants) was wasted.

Of course, such kinds of things happen only in industry  . . .

Best wishes, 


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