Academic credit is a first-to-the post system

Everybody in academia pays attention to ‘who was the first person to discover this thing.’ The way that it counts is by publishing something about it.

The first-to-the-post system and the existence of preprint servers means encourages people to create a lot of false positives. This would not be a problem if there was a good way of alerting the world that something was a false positive but there is no good system for that.

The first-to-the-post system makes everybody obsessed with being “scooped” because the first person to publish an idea gets the credit even if someone comes along afterwards and explains it better. Of course, it doesn’t always happen like this and you also get into fights where there is a better known expression of an idea and the person who originally came up with it spends an inordinate amount of time yelling that they came up with it cough Schmidthuber cough

This is why The word ‘novel’ is used as an idea bludgeon in academia - extending an existing idea is not in high esteem even if it’s an important reframing that can unlock something important.

The first-to-the-post system doesn’t encourage dispersing a concept beyond making sure everybody knows that you came up with it and will cite you as such. (Dispersion is the process of a heuretic impacting the world) But Just having the piece of literature doesn’t solve the problem.


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