To increase understanding of science, then, it is necessary to acknowledge and contextualize uncertainty, not hype up or ignore it, both to the public and among scientists. We must embrace uncertainty as we continue along this endless frontier.
For this column, I’ve spoken to Nobel prize winners, bestselling authors, and bioethicists. The idea of emphasizing the scientific process has come up in almost every interview so far. Science will be paramount in future decision-making, especially as issues of the scientific future like climate change and artificial general intelligence will become increasingly tied up with humanity’s future
Problematically, peer review assumes a veil of objectivity and expertise when it is an incredibly subjective process. Reviewers inevitably have overt or unconscious biases towards the institution, methods, or even individual researchers of the publication they’re reviewing. Additionally, because reviewers must have a certain level of authority in the subject, their work is often in direct competition with what’s presented in these potential publications. In some specialized fields, only a handful of researchers — and by extension, reviewers — are available, most of whom are familiar with each others’ work.
If ten chefs follow the same recipe but get nine different dishes, perhaps that reveals more about the complexity and unpredictability of science. Better understanding this inherent complexity and seeing science’s limitations, then, even if uncomfortable, is a worthwhile investigation.
At the end of the day, funding is supposed to fuel science, not hinder it. If the funding system is actively preventing groundbreaking research, we have to change that system.
This column will examine factors that obscure truth-seeking in scientific research, such as funding mechanisms, irreproducibility, peer review, and barriers to science communication. We must confront how our current academic structures and institutions promote thinking inside the box instead of encouraging scientific daring.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that we have incredible possibilities ahead of us — and I look forward to these endless surprises most beautiful.
Beyond remembering and analyzing personal uncertainties, I think journaling should inform our interactions with each other. To me, journal entries are micro-experiments, private exercises in empathy, a sort of sparring with oneself.
Scientists owe the public the truth — and honesty, when they lack it. But we also owe scientists respect for that honest truth.
Debates must prioritize the integrity of truth. If we limit politicians’ opportunities to fall back on ad hominem attacks and well-timed emotional stories, the voters watching won’t be as embarrassed for their country.
As we witness increased politicization from the presidential debate stage to the Supreme Court bench, I look to the two justices as a source of hope.
We need a techno-cultural revolution. We must bring forward new thinkers to build a bridge between the sciences and the humanities.
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