The most deadly sentence (from a reviewer…)
Probably the single most deadly sentence GG ever wrote went something like this: “If funded, this proposal will produce a single GRL article destined never to be cited.” (GG can already see the mailbomb being assembled by the recipients of this evaluation).
Why was this sentence so deadly? It didn’t say the work would be unpublishable, it didn’t say it wouldn’t be executed well, it just said that nobody would care. And this was the cardinal sin that this sentence made immediately evident; others who read it saw that fate too and the proposal was declined.
This may be the biggest surprise to some, especially those fans of Sen. Proxmire’s old “Golden Fleece” awards or Sen. Coburn’s current ill-informed (at least on the science side) Wastebook 2013. Science is only worth doing if it can lead you somewhere further on. Nobel prizes are awarded not only on the advances that are made but on demonstration that they can be built upon. This explains the occasionally incredible length of time between work being done and an award being given (there’s motivation for doing your best work early in life so you could still be around to get an award for it).