Amateur Science and Untouchables
Some notes & quotes from recent reads:
I hereby invite every curious human to do science and post it on the internet.
Ask questions, collect data, write stuff, and make it available to everyone. You should feel as free to do and share research as you would feel uploading a video to YouTube or a song to Spotify.
You don’t actually need my or anyone else’s permission to do this, but sometimes people need a little encouragement, so: come on in!
Actually, let me make that a little more urgent: Please come in, we need you.
Right now, professional science is like a world where every organism is trying to be a mammal. Mammals are great: milk-producing glands, body hair, ears that have three bones in them, what’s not to like? But if you’ve only got mammals, you’re in big trouble. Monocultures are fragile and prone to collapse because every single organism has identical weaknesses. What you need is an ecosystem—hawks, sea urchins, fungi, various types of fern, and so on.
What I’m saying is: be the lizard. The mammals—that is, mainstream scientists, the ones who get PhDs and professor jobs—have their niche covered. What we need is more people doing botany in their backyards. We need basement chemists. We need amateur geologists and meteorologists.
Heck, if some mammals want to try a different niche, so much the better: ditch the projects you think are pointless, do the thing you think is most important, write it in your own words, and put it on the internet. There’s plenty of space for everyone.
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