In focus: Dan Cleather

From biomechanics to anarchism.

Recommencing our series of written interviews with researchers at IGDORE: Dr Dan Cleather, who is the program director for strength and conditioning at St Mary’s University in London, and works remotely from Prague. Daniel tells us about what sparked his interest in the philosophy of science and his current research on new paradigms for exercise during space exploration.

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Dr Dan Cleather

1. Tell us a bit about your professional background.

I love that I can show my affiliation to IGDORE alongside my employment at St Mary’s University, and people often ask what it means — giving me the opportunity to wax lyrical about the importance of open science.

2. Why did you join IGDORE?

3. You began your research career studying biomechanics and yet you recently wrote a book on the philosophy of science. What sparked your interest in that field?

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The other key event for me was that I saw this tweet by Nathan Hall in response to some Trump craziness or other. I liked the idea that research could be subversive, but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. Trying to answer that question is the journey that led to Subvert!

Anarchism gets a bad rap — it is not about burning things and fighting, but rather is about figuring out the best way to share the Earth’s resources equitably. It is about rejecting authority and finding ways to work together cooperatively.

The movement for open and replicable science is growing quickly and is helping to (re)create the academic norm of communality. In Subvert!, you suggested that principled subversion is another promising method of inquiry for scientists.

4. Could you imagine subversion becoming another large scale movement within academia?

One thing that I discovered as I was writing Subvert! is that I am an anarchist. Anarchism gets a bad rap — it is not about burning things and fighting, but rather is about figuring out the best way to share the Earth’s resources equitably. It is about rejecting authority and finding ways to work together cooperatively. If you are interested, I did an interview with the amazing Susanna Harris where we talked about this:

For me, scientific society should be organised along anarchist lines — open and self-organising from the bottom up. As we know, the reality is far from this. I think that the anarchist literature is an exceptionally rich resource of ideas for the open science community.

5. What would your ideal work-life look like? Where would you live, where would you work, and how many hours would you work per week?

6. What are your professional plans for the next few years?

Other than that, I want to find as much time as possible for reading and writing. I’m about two-thirds of the way through my next book, which is about the biomechanics of training, and I have the first chapter of an autobiographical account of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m also thinking about the second part of Nathan Hall’s quote — i.e. how is teaching protest?

7. What would you like to see more or less of by (or within) IGDORE?

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