René Magritte (1898-1967) was always keen to distinguish the real from the perceived. A common motif in this Belgian surrealist’s art is the veiled faces, most notably used in The Lovers (1928), a painting that depicts a couple with covered faces engaged in a kiss. Enshrouded in cloth, the masks elicit feelings of isolation and disguise, portraying what would otherwise be an intimate, loving moment as an act condemned in loneliness and deceit.
This issue of IMMpress explores ethics in science and how the pressures of the publish-or-perish culture of academia exacerbated by limited funding can undermine the integrity of research. As a companion issue to Volume 4, Issue 2et (2016) which tackled Global Health and Politics, we return to the Surrealism Movement of the early 1920s, borrowing from Magritte’s veiled figures – except here in a lab coat – to represent the moral fluidity that can exist underneath the façade of the objective, evidence-based scientific method. We further invite our readers to ask themselves – what is a scientist? Here, we pay homage to Magritte’s most famous work: The Treachery of Images (1928-1929), a painting of a pipe with the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” because ultimately, it is merely a representation of the object and not the object itself.
The scientist, buried behind layers of cloth, is unheard and concealed from the world. In the age of Trumpism and fake news, we must not only uphold our own standards within the academic community, but uphold that of the public community as well. Engaging and communicating with the general public and our legislators are integral to the development and progress of research science in this country. Only by lifting the veil can we expose our fallibility and work towards building something better.
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