Is the scientific method dead?

Pretty much according to this article by Melanie Swan . And why? Big Data and Crowdsourcing. Bam.

Crowdsourcing is another trend reshaping the conduct of science. This is the coordination of large numbers of individuals (the crowd) through the Internet to participate in some activity. Crowd models have led to the development of a science ecosystem that includes the professionally-trained institutional researcher using the traditional scientific method at one end, and the citizen scientist exploring issues of personal interest through a variety of methods at the other. In between are different levels of professionally-organized and peer-coordinated efforts.

The Internet (and the trend to Internet-connect all people – 2 billion now estimated to be 5 billion in 2020) enables very-large scale science. Not only are existing studies cheaper and quicker in crowdsourced cohorts, but studies 100x the size and detail of previous studies are now possible. The crowd can provide volumes of data by automatically linking quantified self-tracking gadgets to data commons websites. Citizen scientists participate in light information-processing and other data collection and analysis activities through websites like Galaxy Zoo.

The crowd is engaged more extensively through crowdsourced labor marketplaces (initially like Mechanical Turk, now increasingly skill-targeted), data competitions, and serious gaming (like predicting protein folding and RNA conformation). New methods for the conduct of science are being innovated through DIY efforts, the quantified self, biohacking, 3D printing, and collaborative peer-based studies.

She ends by saying now, a plurality of methods is required to advance science. It is an interesting piece.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s