TED Conversations

Michael Moore

Disruptive Physician, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences


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When confronted with new ideas like the ones presented by Mina Bissell, how do we change our views in today's scientific establishment?

Today's scientific research is different than research of 100. 50, or even 20 years ago. The advances are generally more incremental, less understandable to non-scientists, and require an expensive research infrastructure. In addition, because of limited resources we often do not have the time or money to reconfirm results, resulting in less validated information being incorporated into our knowledge base. To me this is a similar situation that resulted in the scientific profession, the science journal, and the concept of peer review. Now, because of the explosion of science knowledge, and the idea that scientific knowledge can be proprietary, these structures/ideas are failing us...and revolutionary ideas like Mina Bissell's can pass us by because they are unrecognized.

Are we entering a new era where we need new models of how we validate knowledge? Do we just retain our trend to open information and hope the knowledge rises to the surface, or is there still a role for curation and peer review?

What are the kinds of skills that the "New Scientist" will need? Maybe just as important, what are the skills they will not need?


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  • Jul 16 2012: I speak as a young scientist that is starting right now to enter into the magnificent world of scientific knowledge. What I feel today is that the most important of all is to publish. A scientist is judged on the number of paper he has, on the number of citation. But I see nowhere the aknowledgement of the contribution. Mina Bissell (and the TED platform) gives us the opportunity to see something that I think is hard to find in the scientific wolrd today. That would be a scientist who pursue an idea and want to test it no matter what it takes. Nowadays there is too much economics issues invovled in science that is putting pressure to be productive but I doubt that this approach is useful for meaningful research, most of all for fundamental research (and this is even more difficult in biology where you are asked all the time for medical applications). If one has to be productive he would less likely try to walk the path of the hazard and originality but also he will be pushed to publish maybe just a part of a work giving us all the fragmented knowledge we have today. Concerning the actual quality of the knowledge I think peer review is still needed but with the technology we have today we might start thinking about a way to keep all the knowledge organized in a huge database in order to better find the information needed to validate specific works. As a sprouting scientist I think that all future scientist should take example from all the scientist in the past that were doing science just to investigate the beauty of the world we are in and to describe it without having as a primary need the urge to become famous or to become the reference in the filed. Just do what you like the best you can. But one thing that should change (and for it we should not have competition) is the possibility to have open discussion without the fear to have our idea stolen. I think i said enough and maybe not too oganized but I hope some ideas worth sharing are in there.
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      Jul 16 2012: Joris, I think you bring out some important points! I think that one of the unintended consequences of "open" science is that it pushed the funding for the peer review and curation of science to the scientists themselves, and away from institutions. This might have an effect on research, just as you mentioned.

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