Sure, dueling was widely regarded as a vile gentlemen's sport in the 19th century, but that, I suspect, was primarily because it involved rather a lot of pistols, sabres, death, and fluffy shirts*. Nonetheless, dueling was a visceral bloodsport that involved honor and competition. I'm not advocating that we turn to scientific bloodsport** for amusement and funding, but rather that we start competing intellectually. Yes, we as scientists already compete upon the scientific edge, trying desperately sometimes not to be scooped as we race to publish data and inadvertantly grind graduate students' free will*** to dust in the process. But at the same time, friendly, rigorous competition is a good thing as it raises standards and adds a slight sheen of adrenalin to even the most esoteric of topics.
If future Scientists' Duels were to take place in the form of competing research blogging, the benefits would be manifold. Namely:
1) Intellectual competition is fun.
2) Important research is disseminated.
3) An inherent value in explaining complicated science for uninvested audiences emerges.
4) More scientists communicate outside of their fields, thereby increasing their explanatory flexibility.
5) Research gets explained more than one way in each Duel, which would allow those with different knowledge-absorbing patterns to more effectively learn what it means.
I am not explicitly saying that I will take on any and all comers in challenging me to a Scientists' Duel, but I am implying it while trying to encourage others to square off and Duel for themselves.
Thoughts, ideas, encomium, and/or**** excoriation?
*Which I do believe I could pull off admirably, the shirts, I mean, not the pistols. Anyone up for a bout with quarterstaves?
**Like writing grants, but with sharp, pointy things. Come to think of it, an actual duel may be easier, and preferable for both parties, than endless traction of 2 closely scored grants in study section. But I digress.
***That's a joke, I think...
****The English language really needs an "and/or" functionality. "Else" is inexact. Therefore I propse "twick" and/or "andort". The added "t" makes it cooler.