Written in a few weeks as a response to a proposed nuclear testing moratorium and other issues, it has been interpreted and misinterpreted, praised and excoriated.
Support Aeon Donate now Friends, citizens, dilettantes: The era of unwieldy hierarchy is on the wane; now is the hour for networked knowledge, for the crowd and the cloud, for the hive mind to rise up and unleash its buzzing potential.
Many of us can recall the joy of opening up our first chemistry set, or building our first model rocket, Essays on selfless service in the army hacking our first line of code. For some observers, this is little more than harmless puttering. Proponents claim that it has all manner of salutary side-effects.
Getting a hands-on appreciation for research will help to dispel the worrisome doubts that certain citizens now possess about the legitimacy of scientific authority.
And when it comes to medicine, discoveries of novel therapies are increasingly rare, despite the desperate manoeuvres of the pharmaceuticals industry; citizen participation should speed up research and make it much easier to replicate results.
These arguments cluster around three main themes. In some cases, citizen science is touted as a remedy. As Forbes magazine put it in Galaxy Zoo, a non-profit, amateur astronomy project initially set up with data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, asks participants to scan millions of celestial images for common galactic morphologies; to keep their attention, players can spell out words with constellations, or win points for certain cute galactic structures.
Smartfin, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, gets surfers to attach a sensor to their boards and collect data on salinity, temperature and the like, all of which is pinged back to Scripps once the surfer makes it back to the beach and hooks up the fin to a smartphone.
Courtesy of Snapshot Serengeti It would be one thing if the citizen science was, in fact, a grassroots political ferment growing from the bottom up.
Not much space left for the average Joe. The irony is that some of the individuals who do take part appear to be motivated by a burning distrust of the government or else a rebel anarchism set against large corporations — sentiments that are common among cadres of biohackers.
There are a few distinct trends and agendas at work. One is the obvious groundswell of hostility to experts spreading throughout the Western world. It rears its head in revanchist nationalism, the anti-vaccination movement, and global-warming denial. Citizen science seems to be an attempt to co-opt and transform that hostility into something else, something useful.
Governments are appealing to the megalomania of the average individual, with the probably vain expectation that these people will naturally temper their hostility to scientific expertise, and accept a modicum of regimentation.
Such a hope flies in the face of sociological research indicating that greater levels of education, combined with Right-of-centre political leanings, exacerbate suspicion towards orthodox science, rather than diminishing it.
The insertion of such companies into the scientific process creates the risk that they will eventually exert more influence over larger research agendas than they already do. One example is PatientsLikeMe, where patients targeted via advocacy groups upload details about their experience of illness and treatment, which is then sold on to pharmaceutical companies to provide alternative data to conventional clinical trials.
As a consequence, criticism and kibitzing of research should occur at all stages, from the first literature reviews and data analysis to posted drafts and final online papers.
In one sense, citizen science provides the requisite reserve army of labour required for the new open-science regime. Photo courtesy of NASA Finally, citizen science is fuelled by the fact that the public sector is trying to get out of the science business.
At least since the s, many governments have been trying to shed responsibility for the funding and coordination of scientific research and training.
Support for universities has been squeezed, offices of science policy have been shuttered, and research has been willingly palmed off to private sponsors. Governments no longer feel the necessity to produce and maintain a national cadre of highly-trained STEM workers. At a recent National Environmental Monitoring Conference, the issue was raised as to whether citizen scientists were being used to offset recent budget and personnel cuts.
The warm glow surrounding citizen science comes from an Enlightenment belief in some inner thirst to know things, a drive in each of us to acquire bits of knowledge.
Someone suffering from asthma might like to know if there is excess ozone in her environment; but she might not necessarily care to learn about the chemical composition of ozone or the physiological mechanisms of broncho-provocation in the lungs.Camp Corral is a free, one-of-a-kind summer camp for children of wounded, disabled or fallen military service timberdesignmag.com its founding, in as a one camp pilot program, Camp Corral has grown over %.Over 6, children have been served and the program has expanded to 23 camps in 19 states.
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BIRTH AND BOYHOOD. On Thursday, the 8th. of September, , in the early hours of the morning, when the star Bharani was in the ascendant was born a boy-child in the village of Pattamadai on the bank of the river Tamraparani in South India.
The mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting. Plutarch. Only the educated are free Epictetus. In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers Introduction and background Since its debut in , Robert Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers has been one of the most popular -- and controversial -- works of science fiction ever published.
Written in a few weeks as a response to a proposed nuclear testing moratorium and other issues, it has been interpreted and misinterpreted, praised and excoriated. A booklist for active duty military families, veteran families, supporters & more!
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