On today’s ID the Future philosopher of science Paul Nelson discusses a new paper in Nature making waves in the scientific community, “Papers and Patents are Becoming Less Disruptive over Time.” According to Michael Park and his fellow researchers, the rate of groundbreaking scientific discoveries is declining while the percentage of consolidating (or incremental) science is coming to dominate. Is the spirit of groundbreaking scientific discovery withering, and if so, why? Nelson notes a 1997 book by John Horgan, The End of Science. Nelson credits Horgan for seeing the trend a generation ahead of the Park paper, but Nelson breaks with Horgan on the diagnosis. Horgan posits that groundbreaking science is declining because we have already made most of the big breakthroughs there are to make. Nelson begs to differ. He suggests the problem lies elsewhere and likely is multifaceted. Tune in to hear his analysis and his prescription for reinvigorating the scientific enterprise in the twenty-first century. Crowther and Nelson discuss two other papers during their conversation. For Nelson’s paper on disruption and consensus in science, “The Paradox of Consensus,” go here. For the Thomas Gold paper on the problem of the herd effect in science, go here.
On this ID the Future, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor discusses his recent article about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn, the great Soviet dissident and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, penned the essay “Live Not By Lies” in 1974, just before he was arrested and exiled from Russia. It was his advice, or even strategy, for living under totalitarianism. Solzhenitsyn’s basic advice is simply not to participate with lies, and to refuse to speak what one does not believe. It’s unnervingly relevant counsel to us in America today, where “cancel culture” and other silencing tactics, long foreshadowed in the intelligent design debate, are spreading to the broader culture.