Crimson opinion writer
For this column, I’ve spoken to Nobel prize winners, bestselling authors, and bioethicists. The idea of emphasizing the scientific process has come up in almost every interview so far. Science will be paramount in future decision-making, especially as issues of the scientific future like climate change and artificial general intelligence will become increasingly tied up with humanity’s future
Problematically, peer review assumes a veil of objectivity and expertise when it is an incredibly subjective process. Reviewers inevitably have overt or unconscious biases towards the institution, methods, or even individual researchers of the publication they’re reviewing. Additionally, because reviewers must have a certain level of authority in the subject, their work is often in direct competition with what’s presented in these potential publications. In some specialized fields, only a handful of researchers — and by extension, reviewers — are available, most of whom are familiar with each others’ work.
If ten chefs follow the same recipe but get nine different dishes, perhaps that reveals more about the complexity and unpredictability of science. Better understanding this inherent complexity and seeing science’s limitations, then, even if uncomfortable, is a worthwhile investigation.
At the end of the day, funding is supposed to fuel science, not hinder it. If the funding system is actively preventing groundbreaking research, we have to change that system.
This column will examine factors that obscure truth-seeking in scientific research, such as funding mechanisms, irreproducibility, peer review, and barriers to science communication. We must confront how our current academic structures and institutions promote thinking inside the box instead of encouraging scientific daring.
Debates must prioritize the integrity of truth. If we limit politicians’ opportunities to fall back on ad hominem attacks and well-timed emotional stories, the voters watching won’t be as embarrassed for their country.