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"The" Science Disrupted
There has been a significant decline in the "disruptiveness" of science and technology research papers published over the past few decades, according to an analysis of how much these papers depart from previous literature.
Data from millions of manuscripts show that, compared to the mid-20th century, research from the 2000s was much more likely to incrementally push science forward, rather than veer off in a new direction and make previous work obsolete.
Analysis of patents from 1976 to 2010 showed the same trend. The decline in disruptiveness was seen across all fields of research and patent types. The authors of the study suggest that the trend could be due to changes in the scientific enterprise, such as an increase in the number of researchers and larger research teams, which are more likely to produce incremental rather than disruptive science.
My personal opinion is a bit different. I believe we need to take a hard look yet again as to what science actually means – hint: it’s not peer reviewed papers!
The nature of new advancements in science is that they’re by definition somewhat revolutionary and as such can never ever be peer reviewed. Perhaps we should ask ourselves instead: if too many people agree on something, how can it truly be disruptive and some new type of knowledge emerge from it?
Nobody said it better than Allen Savory in these 90 seconds:
Innovation and scientific breakthroughs hardly come from the center of the profession, they come from the fringe.
Therefore in order to not “kill ourselves because of stupidity” one day as Allen had put it, how can we get actual “science” back into “the” science?
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