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Knowledge Doesn’t Belong to Just Any One Person

Let Your Light Shine.CMC

Below is an excerpt from the May 2017, National Geographic Magazine, where Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, discusses the need for frank discussion and collaboration amongst everyone, not just scientists and academics, in order to advance human knowledge.

Doesn’t publishing your raw data invite premature criticism? 

Yes, there’s is public criticism, but that’s peculiar to any science in transition.  The philosophy behind open sourcing and sharing our data and 3-D file images is that we’re turning paleoanthropology into an experimental science.  Our field has not typically operated like that.  Unless others can test the hypothesis you’re putting forward, its not an experimental science. 

Does pairing new scientists with such big questions risk their careers if the science is sloppy—or wrong?

That concept is fiction.  Other fields of experimental science embrace early career scientists.  They bring the freshest ideas and the newest application of technology.  Scientists should never be perceived as risking their careers by being wrong.  That’s the nature of hypothesis.

Knowledge can’t be “owned” by any one person, its a universal commodity.  And, learning takes place by making mistakes and getting messy, as Ms. Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame advises.  Yet, sharing one’s ideas with others sometimes risks experiencing a discomforting scrutiny, additionally our inherent human tendency to want credit for our ideas can be another challenge to overcome in order to work together toward the collective good.  But, by analyzing our missteps and our progress, which is an inexact and imperfect process imbued with our inherent human biases, can we then progress as a human race toward greater understanding.