Every curious mind is a scientist?

“Every curious mind is a scientist.”

If I read that statement, I’m conflicted.

One part of me is alerted. If just anyone could call themself a scientist, people would come up with “woo-woo theories” that promote what’s in their interest. Dangerous!

The other part of me is open to that idea. Do I need a publicly funded position as a researcher to practice science? I’m a curious mind myself. I love to ponder questions in computer science, psychology and philosophy. And I’m not the only explorer outside of a lab.

What is our definition of a scientist?

“A scientist is someone who systematically gathers and uses research and evidence, to make hypotheses and test them, to gain and share understanding and knowledge.”

I agree with that. But I would even go even further. If I had to write down my very-own definition it would sound like this:

“A scientist is one who seeks truth beyond the known.”

We’ve got “hard science” such as physics, mathematics, and computer science, which I studied. I’d also call it “safe science” because even though my problem can get very complex, I can always rely on my crutch, an advanced numerical framework to verify my hypothesis.

What we trivially call “soft science” is the real beast to conquer. It’s about everything that deals with humans. Why do we throw our “hard science” formulas at sociology and anthropology? Maybe because it’s all we have? What we observe in human behavior is full of paradoxes. If we’d be honest, wouldn’t we have to admit that we are clueless?

I love to ponder questions that challenge our existing scientific framework.

  • What is evidence?

  • Can science be objective?

  • What is consciousness?

  • Can consciousness arise from matter?

  • What comes prior to matter?

  • What is reality?

  • Is 2 + 2 = 4 a relative or an absolute statement?

I have this strong impression that we might be acting ignorant. We might be missing something fundamental. To find answers to questions like these, we need radically open-minded scientists. Many of them. Today, everyone who can experiment, observe, and write can make, test, and share hypotheses online.

I’m aware there are dangers to this, but I’m also aware we can’t safeguard what’s considered to be “real science” and aggressively dismiss other perspectives as being foolish and wrong.

“Science as something already in existence, already completed, is the most objective impersonal thing that we humans know. Science as something coming into being, as a goal, is just as subjectively, psychologically conditioned as are all other human endeavors.”

— Albert Einstein (1932)

Even if we see the world through the lens of science, it’s still a lens. A human lens to be exact. What if we embraced that fact rather than fighting it? What if we were more humble and honest with our confirmed scientific discoveries and treat them as sophisticated opinions, rather than hard facts?

What if lab scientists had a safe space where they can anonymously explore ideas outside of their funded research goals? What if we invite curious minds outside of the scientific community to join the discussion?

What medium in addition to scientific journals would we need to have those discussions? How would we regulate the communication, so that everyone can honestly share their perspective, while being able to distinguish between single opinions and more widely supported hypotheses?

Published by Michael Aufreiter on Sep 28
Revised on Oct 27
1 Conversation

The main condition for engaging in science is a burning curiosity, the satisfaction of which becomes a way of life. Not everyone can afford it. You need to dive deep into a certain area and study all the best scientific achievements of mankind in order to move on, solving paradoxes and eliminating contradictions. Each step forward requires reflection and meditation. You must also be sincere, impractically honest, and unselfish. The main motivation of a scientist is the satisfaction of curiosity, not a career and making money. This is quite rare today. Mass science, unfortunately, has become a craft that provides the material side of life. If a person has come to science to earn money, he will not become a scientist. And getting academic titles and scientific positions is not about science as such. The real goal of a scientist is to replenish the universal human culture with new knowledge. Usually, this requires thinking for yourself, and not blindly following the scientific mainstream…

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