The sidebar to McKight's column at ASBMB Today this month is hilarious.
I’ve decided it’s prudent to take a break from the debate about the quality of reviewers on National Institutes of Health study sections. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology governing council met in mid-November with Richard Nakamura, director of the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review. The discussion was enlightening, and the data presented will inform my future columns on this topic.
HAHAHHAA. Clearly it is news to McKnight that his opinions might actually be on topics for which there are data in support or contradiction? And now he has to sit down and go through actual facts to try to come up with a better argument that study sections today are populated with riff-raff who are incompetent to review science.
Never fear though, he still leaves us with some fodder for additional snickering at his....simple-minded thinking. He would like his readers to answer some poll questions...
The first question is:
Should the quality of the proposed research and researcher be the most important criteria dictating whether an NIH-sponsored grant is funded?
The response item is Yes/No so of course some 99% of the responses are going to be Yes. Right? I mean jeepers what a stupid question. Particularly without any sense of what he imagines might be a possible alternative to these two considerations as "the most important criteria". Even more hilariously since he has totally conflated the two things that are actual current items of debate (i.e., project versus person) and tie directly into his two prior columns!
The next question:
The review process used to evaluate NIH grant applications is:
has three possible answers:
essentially perfect with no room for improvement
slightly sub-optimal but impossible to improve
suboptimal with significant room for improvement
Again, simple-minded. Nobody thinks the system is perfect, this is a straw-man argument. I predict that once again, he's going to get most people responding on one option, the "suboptimal, room for improvement" one. This is, again, trivial within the discussion space. The hard questions, as you my Readers know full well, relate to the areas of suboptimality and the proposed space in which improvements need to be made.
What is he about with this? Did Nakamura really tell him that the official CSR position is that everything is hunky-dory? That seems very unlikely given the number of initiatives, pilot studies, etc that they (CSR) have been working through ever since I started paying attention about 7-8 years ago.
Ah well, maybe this is the glimmer of recognition on the part of McKnight that he went off half-cocked without the slightest consideration that perhaps there are actual facts here to be understood first?