“But I want to make the world a better place” – unselfish reasons for reproducibility

Yesterday I gave my talk on 5 selfish reasons to work reproducibly at the University of Nottingham in a meeting called The Gold Standard of Reproducible Research.

Except for me, everyone else at the workshop came from the social sciences and I found it very interesting to engage with a different community this time.

In some respects they were not too different from biologists – they did not get my git joke either. (By now the only joke here is how long it takes me to explain what git does.)

In other respects, however, the feedback I got was quite surprising.

At the beginning of my talk I list all kinds of reasons for reproducibility, which I then claim are not convincing for me: “Because it is the right thing to do! Because the world would be a better place if everyone did it! Because it is the foundation of science!”

In the current version of the talk I comment: “These are just reasons for whining snowflakes, do-gooders who put flowers in their hair and sing about making the world a better place.”

Then I say: “But that’s not who I am. I am not in this game to change the world, I am in this game to WIN IT” (it is important to shout a bit at the end of the sentence) and I  point to a picture of Muhammad Ali knocking out an opponent.

So far, so funny.

But yesterday in Nottingham pretty much everybody I talked to made a point of saying that they actually were in this game to change the world.

One person even told me that selfish reasons were just preaching to the choir, while what was really needed to convince the unconverted are virtue based arguments.


Lots of food for thought.



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