"Expert attention is to creative problem solving what water is to life in the desert: it is the fundamental scarce resource." That is Michael Nielsen's main thesis in 'Reinventing Discovery', which is really a book about the future of science.
Previously, I’ve discussed some flaws in the way that we teach science, and the particular implications for scientists themselves. However, the view(s) that non-scientists hold of science influence the success or failure of science in a multitude of ways, even though they are not active practitioners. How then does basic science education shape the views of the non-scientists?
The subtle flaws of science education
In his landmark book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" Thomas Kuhn describes how the majority of scientific work is actually focused on solving scientific puzzles. That’s what Kuhn calls normal science, and scientists are perfectly trained for and highly efficient in pursuing this endeavour. However, there are times when normal science reaches its limits and scientific revolutions arise, even though invisible to most scientists. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this blind spot and what its wider impact is.
Innovation and revolution in science
A lot has been said already about the role of science as an essential underpinning of innovation. But apart from this perspective of innovation through science, there’s another aspect of the science-innovation relation I’d like to cast some light on: How does innovation in science work?
Knowledge and the economy
Any endeavour that exceeds the skills and resources of an individual or that entails significant uncertainty and risk benefits from collaboration. At the same time, we have a very human inclination to share only the risk, while retaining the benefits for ourselves. This desire for selective sharing defines a love-hate relationship that applies to innovation as well.