On literacy

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.

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.