Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables. this dark side of publishing and perishing, I recommend Cantor's Dilemma. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Cantor's Dilemma | Walter Stewart, PhD, the National Institutes of Health scientist who spends most of his time exposing his. Cantor's dilemma by Carl Djerassi, , Doubleday edition, in English - 1st ed.

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Cantor's Dilemma. Carl Djerassi. Article · Info & Metrics · eLetters · PDF. Loading The first page of the PDF of this article appears above. Science: ( ). PHI LA DE LPb+lA. PA Cantor's Dilemma by Carl Djeraasi: Through Fiction, the Real World of!kience. Number. November. 20, Withhis first . Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. A distinguished cell biologist and his best student Cantor's Dilemma - site edition by Carl Djerassi. Download it.

I thought of the problem and the solution, he did the actual work, and we published it together. An important aspect of his position as Master is that, although from the perspective of his junior collaborators he seems wholly devoted to research, he actually leads a double life, as we have seen, a secret life as an affluent, high-brow gentleman.

In his spare time, he engages in high culture, as an erotic art connoisseur for instance, being the owner of seven original erotic drawings by Egon Schiele. But this sample from Viennese existence is now embedded in the American way of life and combined with a splendid view over Lake Michigan.

And Cantor is quite good at playing the publication game. By establishing formal outlets in the form of journals, discoveries could now be attributed to the scholar who first published about it, or whose paper first reached the editor of an acknowledged journal. But it would also turn publishing into a kind of card game, with the sealed envelope functioning as a kind of trump card.

The content of the sealed envelope is unknown, in principle quite significant, but potentially quite embarrassing, because its claims may prove false which is precisely why it must remain sealed until further notice. It is up to the author to decide whether and when the card will be shown. Others only know that a claim is made, but are unfamiliar with the secret content of the claim, thereby demonstrating what Lacan refers to as the priority of the signifier over the signified.

Rumours concerning the content of the submitted envelope are likely to precede its disclosure. But others may have deposited similar claims of course, whose exact content is equally obscure.


The signifier has primacy because the fate of the scientific competitors in terms of recognition by peers is already literally sealed. If you submit your envelope sooner, you may claim priority in case you happen to be right, but the chances that your results will prove inadequate or non-replicable will also be greater.

In fact, his unconscious already set this game of cards in motion namely during the toilet scene before he consciously became involved in this race for priority. If you want to lay claim to the Nobel Prize even if you are still uncertain whether your claim is really true or false , there is an opportune moment to submit. In the case of Arrowsmith, the decision to postpone submission equalled academic suicide.

And yes, his unconscious certainly has reasons to deplore this. Whereas the sealed envelope would have given him and advance meanwhile checking his results , the current system entails a handicap because now, retraction can no longer occur discretely and the card that is now on the table for all to see can easily be trumped by competitors like Krauss. Cantor not only plays card games with competitors like Krauss. His most decisive card game concerns his relationship with Stafford, his associate.

But their card game takes an unexpected turn once the Nobel Prize is awarded to them. With some difficulty, Jerry manages to meet Cantor now suddenly famous and besieged by the media in private, announcing that he has a confession to make p. Apparently, he wants to lay his cards on the table. Once the card of the Nobel Prize is played, it cannot be repealed or refused.

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Even Sartre who refused the Nobel Prize for literature for ideological reasons is still on the list of Nobel laureates. There is a secret hidden in the sealed envelope of his Nobel Prize speech.

Initially, everything seems in order. The slides of the presentation are like playing cards, and initially, Stafford puts his cards on the table as expected.

Was it the use of the first person singular? Actually, he has two surprises in store for Cantor. The first one is that he presents a detailed account of his first experiment. And the second is that, apparently, but unbeknownst to Cantor, this experiment has now finally been replicated by Dr.

Initially, there were problems repeating the work, Stafford admits, but when each step was scrutinised carefully, the discrepancy was finally discovered. I have no reason to doubt that it will also be replicated… So we actually have two independent tests in support of our theory.

I trust that none of you will consider this just a superfluous crossing of a t, the unnecessary dotting of an i. He will now tell you about that second experiment p. The day before we completed the experiment together. Cantor, however, is still dissatisfied.

What do scientists want? They want to secure their claim to priority, and therefore they want to publish and be the first to do so. In other words, as soon as you publish, your intellectual property is turned into common property, and scientists may therefore be reluctant to give themselves away. Another intriguing association, psychoanalytically speaking, is connected with this one, namely the pejorative sense of the Latin term publicare.

Cantor's Dilemma

So, yes, there certainly are reasons for ambivalence or even reluctance when it comes to publishing your results or your ideas in academic journals. Yes, scientists do want their websites to be visited and their work to be downloaded and their thoughts to be known, but to publish also implies that you are putting your integrity at risk.

Celestine Price, Stafford's girlfriend, is an ambitious biologist who for a long time has planned her academic and emotional life in detail. When she decided in high school to lose her virginity, she seduced her swim coach one morning at am, when no one could find them. She lives with a graduate student in English named Leah Woodeson, who throughout the novel plays the role of Shakespearean fool, deconstructing and dissecting the hidden motives behind what professors say and write.

Woodeson teaches Price and Stafford, and the unfamiliar reader, about modern literary criticism, while Price and Stafford educate her about their work. Cantor himself, who keeps his personal life completely hidden from his students, collects erotic art and antique furniture, and plays the violin in a quartet.

Cantor may seem to be an ambitious cold-heart, but even he can fall in love. All of Djerassi's characters are sensualists, drinking down any interesting subject or experience they can find.

They have an energy and broadmindedness worth emulating. It was exciting to read about people so intellectually alive.

Djerassi knows the world whereof he writes. He is a year-old professor of organic chemistry at Stanford University, famous in his field for the first synthesis of the birth control pill. The science in the book is accurate down to some amazing details -- did you know that lining the cage of the bug P.

It's true, it's in the literature, and only an author with the deep knowledge of scientific lore that Djerassi has could have found and included such a wonderful detail. The book is full of such tidbits, all accurate. According to the author, only Stafford and Cantor's experiment is fictitious.

Djerassi writes in a lively, detailed style, reflecting his long experience with and knowledge about the people and science he writes about. He already plans several more novels about the social implications of science and scientists' involvement in politics, according to an interview in the San Francisco Examiner.

I have no doubt his future works will be as enlightening as this one.Djerassi understands how scientists become famous. Ortega wrote papers Kairos. He followed their de! They both know the call from Stockholm is at stake.

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Dover Publications. In his adult life his description of the relations between the objectives of science and philosophy has changed. I defect, you cooperate , often called exploiting the other player, followed by 2.

The two simplest bots are CooperateBot and DefectBot, which always cooperate and always defect respectively.

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