It feels like we’ve shifted from uncertainty and optimism (“maybe we won’t have to cancel our organization’s meeting this year”) to a resigned recognition that we are in this for the long haul. This is particularly true for those of us based in the US, where we have catastrophically mismanaged our approach to the pandemic. We are now a quarantined nation, rightfully blocked from travel to much of the world. Where the 4th of July is usually a time for barbecues and fireworks, anyone with the slightest awareness of public health will spend the day in a much quieter and lonelier manner.

In past “out of office” notices for the holiday, my thoughts have often been drawn to one of my favorite bands, X, not only because of their great song “4th of July” but also because to me they are the quintessential American rock band, drawing on musical tradition from Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie through the Ramones. Rather than reposting “4th of July” again, this year I’m offering up “The New World”, which makes even more sense now than it did during its Reagan-era release. Hang in there, stay safe, and we’ll see you on Monday.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


7 Thoughts on "A 4th of July Like No Other"

A new reality for 2020 and beyond
Verbiage like physical distancing, zoom, masks, virtual work, mime hugging Are all part of our culture

The pandemic demands major attention to present rather than past. But surely on the 4th of July we can excuse David for noting that “we have catastrophically mismanaged our approach.” This, for “those of us based in the US” acknowledges incompetence, and more, compared with many contemporary governments. But we should also look further back in the past to the organization of the biomedical research enterprise – the funders, the researchers themselves, and those who publish their work. Why is everyone scrambling for a solution? Because there is not a deep enough store of knowledge to permit us, in a few nimble steps, to identify a clear path forward. For the optimum advancement of knowledge, Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions identified as a major rate-limiting step, the need for paradigm shifts. A majority of researchers (team B, so ably supported by funders and publishers) remain in a paradigm bubble until a member of team A (a Newton, Darwin, Einstein, or Crick) pricks the bubble and lights a new path. In the biological sciences, a prime example is Gregor Mendel whose discovery of what we now know as “genes” lay unrecognized for 35 years.

Who could have imagined that putting a science-denier in the White House might have catastrophic consequences? Inconceivable, no?

Thank you David. I agree wholeheartedly. The lack of federally mandated testing, the lack of understanding of why it’s so important, and the absence of dissemination of information as to why it’s so important, by the current administration, is why we’re in this situation. And, by all means, X is the best band to come out of the 1980’s LA punk scene.

I’d go a step further and call them the best rock band to come out of LA period, if not California as a whole.

Love the love for X! Those first four albums in particular can stand with anyone’s first four…

For many Black Americans, the 4th of July was difficult to celebrate due to the current Black Lives Matter movement alone. It’s interesting to me to see the differences in Black and white perspectives and experiences even in this.

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