We are observing two new phenomena. On one hand doubt is shed on the quality of entire scientific fields or sub-fields. On the other this doubt is played out in the open, in the media and blogosphere.
Science isn't cold, hard facts uncovered by emotionless robots. Acknowledging how and where values play a role promotes a more realistic view and can advance science's reputation for reliability.
Recent research suggests that humankind's origins lay outside of Africa. This is the nature of science: a paradigm that cannot be questioned on a regular basis becomes a dogma.
South Africa's National Research Foundation will dramatically scale back “incentive” funding to rated researchers, both those who already have a rating and those who will be rated in the future.
Today's scientific research is characterized by interdisciplinary, international collaboration. Awards like the Nobel Prizes haven't caught up.
Scientific truth is based on a body of research which has been tried and tested by many researchers over time. Peer review filters the good science from the bad.
A new study connects the dots between published science and patented innovations, mapping just how society benefits from basic scientific research.
Research dollars don't stay locked up in academia and government labs. R&D collaborations with the private sector are common – and grow the innovation economy.
Even if alien life is never discovered, all is not lost.
Africa's overall contribution to research might be small, but smart people are undertaking smart and important work on and about the continent.
A better understanding of science among ordinary people validates the vast amounts of public funds spent on scientific research.
Any field that collects and analyzes data relies on statistical techniques to make sense of it all. Modern, more accurate methods should supplant the old ways... but in many cases, they haven't yet.
What are research dollars actually spent on? Rather than looking at artifacts like publications and patents, a new initiative directly tracks the people and businesses that receive research funding.
In science, the word 'theory' has a very specific meaning that's easy for nonscientists to misunderstand or misconstrue. Here's what a theory must withstand to be accepted by the scientific community.
The case for neoclassicism in science.
So many good ideas fail to make it out of the research lab because of a lack of funding.
A scientific breakthrough in a vacuum may be free of ethical implications. But many developments can be used for good or evil, or both. There's a fine balance on what to control and to what extent.
The traditional mode of publishing scientific research faces much criticism – primarily for being too slow and sometimes shoddily done. Maybe fewer publications of higher quality is the way forward.
Without research on primates, we wouldn't be able to understand the human brain – or repair it.
Embracing more rigorous scientific methods would mean getting science right more often than we currently do. But the way we value and reward scientists makes this a challenge.