Friday, March 7, 2008

What we need more of is science.

What we need less of is people who do not understand how science works.

"The internet is changing the scientific method

If all other fields can go 2.0, incorporating collaboration and social networking, it's about time that science does too.

In the bellwether journal Science this week, a computer scientist argues that many modern problems are resistant to traditional scientific inquiry.

"There is an enormous success story for Science 1.0," Ben Shneiderman, a University of Maryland computer science professor said. "But the Internet is changing both the methods we use and the things we need to study. The challenge for the next 400 years is to understand how trust and empathy work."

In an editorial titled, "Science 2.0," Shneiderman argues that studying the interactions between people will be more important than studying the interactions between particles in bringing scientific solutions to big problems like disaster response, health care and energy sustainability.

Listen, here's how the scientific method works: you gather data, formulate a hypothesis, make predictions from said hypothesis and conduct experiments to verify your predictions. Correct hypothesis if needed, and iterate until solid. That's it! If you fuck with that you're no longer doing science and should be tarred, feathered, whipped and judged eligible to only recieve medical treatment from alternative medicine proponents.

Of course, what Shneiderman seems talking about is changing fields of of study, increasing collaboration and all that jazz, but changing some of the methods scientists use is different from changing the scientific method. This is a distinction the people at wired are either too ignorant to grasp, or too concerned with a sexy headline to let it bother them. Either way, they should get a good clout on the head and be sent to bed without supper.

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