Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan

Turkey: The Land of “Tight-Fisted Professors” Parsimonious with Sharing Scientific Knowledge

Bilimsel Paylaşım Cimrisi "Varyemez Hocalar" Diyarı Türkiye

I have seen professors who would perform the surgeries with a cover on their heads to prevent their assistants from observing them. They would keep their knowledge and experiences in a stricter manner than the famous Uncle Scrooge.

Another professor wouldn’t even give the keys of the laboratory to the janitor, although the laboratory was provided through government support.

Some other professor would keep the addresses and telephone numbers of all the patients in the country that suffered from a specific disease, and he would bear a grudge against anyone who would make a research about that disease, let alone share that knowledge with other scientists.

Another one wouldn’t share the details of the data he collected as a part of his tasks in a joint study, and he would blackmail people to become the first name in the article.

In another incident that I experienced, we analyzed if the surgery of a specific disease had any permanent traumatic effects on the patient. As a test tool, I used flashers and an evoked potential that I knew well. A short while after the operation, I remeasured the cerebral response given to the flasher before, during and following the operation, and I really witnessed a significant, exaggerated response. He intended to increase the number, claiming that one case would not be enough; therefore, I applied to public authorities to expand and improve the research mechanism that I set with great efforts and personal expenses, yet I couldn’t get any results. When I suggested that we take this one case and tell about it at an international electrophysiology convention, the fellow surgeon, who was my partner in that study, strongly opposed. After all, it was our idea and we were supposed to keep it to ourselves!

As a matter of fact, I also experienced it on the other side; one of my professors developed a special technique for patients with enuresis, for whom no remedies could be found, and only one assistant wanted to learn about it after long years for the very first time in his life, and that was me. I suppose nobody else was interested in the subject matter after me!

Similarly, I know another professor, who had the ability to operate the human soul as masterfully as a piano virtuoso would play their piano, although he passed away without teaching any of his students about the tricks of his craft.

Even though these professors were schooled with the slightest amounts of incomes by the poverty-stricken people of this country, they lived only for themselves. They forgot that those people have every right in each word they know.

What a shame, isn’t it?

And what’s more important was probably the fact that what’s called science can grow by sharing, becomes a tradition, functions as the only way to destroy all kinds of dogmas and to illuminate everyone…

In the West, it was completely different. The scientists that I saw there kept what they knew only until they were able to validate the hypothesis they claimed, provided that they were strictly loyal to the ethical principles. When the claim would yield results, they would explain it with all the details. It was obvious which side was far advanced in science…

However, science was like an ocean, it wouldn’t come to an end by writing even if each and every tree in the forests were to be a pencil!

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