Moving on up

You are a prominent fellow at top-tier research university.

Every day, your work is bringing us closer to solving a major problem.

You’re well compensated.

You lead a high quality lifestyle.

You have a bright future ahead of you as long as you keep up the good work.

You’re optimistic for that future because of the findings of your latest study:

  • The problem you’re researching can rather easily be solved and prevented.
  • Implementing the solution will be inexpensive for both people with the problem and the relevant authorities.
  • Once the problem is solved, the alternative solution – really just a band aid – will no longer be necessary – you’ve discovered a way to solve the problem at its root.

You’ve run many successful trials for your solution with a success rate of over 98% with zero attributable side effects.

The people who have used your solution continuously thank you.

This is the major breakthrough you’ve been waiting for. 

You’re going to make the world a better place.

You finish writing your report and send it off – eager for your director’s review and the numerous accolades that await.

The national conference on problems is in two months – you’ll probably be asked to present your findings

The next day, your director calls you in to her office.

She’s sitting at her desk, holding the report in her hand, looking at it with a great intensity.

But instead of a smile, has a rather stern look on her face.

You take a seat, but she still does not look up at you.

You can’t publish this.


We can’t be responsible for claiming an absolute solution.

It’s been vetted extensively. We found that it works over 98% of the time – it’s not absolute but our trials show that it works most –

This will be considered fraudulent research.

We cannot tell people that they can stop what they’re doing just like that.

But they can! I mean, they don’t have to stop if they don’t want to, but there’s no reason to have to continue. We’ve found a true solution to the problem.

I’m sorry. We can’t publish this.

I don’t understand.

What we have found will help a significant number of people. What is your problem with this?

Isn’t it important that people get their problem solved?

They think we’re faking our data. I’ve already spoken to our contact who put us on this project. 

Ok, that’s absurd. You know I would never, I have never –

We will be labeled a phony research team and we won’t get more funding – our future grants will be denied!

Our partners should be happy! We’ve found them a solution! This solves a major problem!

If you don’t want to put your name to it, I’ll publish it myself. This is important.

If you publish this, I won’t be able to keep you on.

I’d have to let you go.

You’ll lose your title. 

You’ll be labeled as a fraudster for giving people false hope.

You’ll lose your credibility. 

I’d hate to have to do this to you but you would leave me no choice.

Please archive the report and your data, then move on to the next study.

You’re my best researcher. Please don’t force my tied hand.

Obviously, something is up.

You’ve never been told you can’t publish your work – let alone lose your career if you do.

You could try publishing it yourself because it’s the right thing to do – you ultimately do want to help people.

But who will believe you if your credibility is being attacked from every direction?

Who’s going to take you seriously if you have no credentials?

Who would listen to a fraudster?

Would you publish?

The right, moral thing would be to try to help as many people as possible, but you’ll apparently lose everything if you do, and there’s little guarantee that anybody will listen to you anyway.

As much as you want to publish your research and help those people in need, the risk-reward ratio is horrible.

If you don’t publish, nothing bad will happen to you.

You’ll dispose of the study, move on to the next, and nobody will know anything about it.

You’ll have to live your life knowing that you could have helped many people live better lives…

… but then again, it’s not like it’s your destiny to help them.

If they really wanted to find the solution, they should be able to figure it out themselves.

After all, what you figured out wasn’t overly complicated.

It would be best for your career if you didn’t go rouge and publish your research.

  • We don’t want to do something that is self-defeating


But what would happen if you did the right thing?

Continue to the next story.

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