Humble Science

Today, a science-denialism movement battles against a movement that urges people to “believe science” and “respect the experts.”

Are both sides misunderstanding what science is?

Contrary to the drive to see scientists as “experts,” most scientists are in the habit of questioning what their peers say. Since science is about what nature shows us, not what we think, scientists also need to be ready to question their own findings, assumptions, models, and experimental choices.

But this attitude of humble skepticism does not come easily to most people. Worse, the highly competitive, publish-or-perish culture of today’s science industry makes it even harder to put the necessary self-questioning into action.

In the Humble Science project, I am exploring whether cultivating active humility can make science not only more respectful, but more scientific.

Join me as I explore:

• Surprising stories from science’s past and present that show how science can benefit when its practitioners stay humble
• How the structure of the research industry contributes to a replication crisis – the failure of influential scientific findings to hold up to further testing – that is turning entire fields upside down
• Why laboratory workers are going on strike in academic science departments across the US
• How the growing demographic and life-experience divide between scientists and the rest of us impairs the relevance and even the accuracy of scientific results
• How scientists can benefit from respecting the knowledge of patients, farmers, and other “outsiders” to science who may know more than us about some of the questions science tries to answer
• How scientists can learn from people, cultures, and ways of thinking that have experience in cultivating humility

Ilana’s article at Cultural Daily (May 9, 2023):

Values and Science in “A White Heron”

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