Citizen Science

Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science
– James Clerk Maxwell

Tell me and I forget
Teach me and I remember
Involve me and I learn

– Benjamin Franklin

We need science education to produce scientists, but we need it equally to create literacy in the public. … Such participation was quite common in the 19th century, but has unhappily declined. Literacy in science will enrich a person’s life.
– Hans A. Bethe 

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The scientific spirit is of more value than its products
– Thomas Huxley

Citizen scientists are not ‘pretend scientists’. They are citizens who have gained some measure of scientific literacy (possibly through an interest in things like BOINC). If scientific literacy exists only in ivory towers, not in the citizenry, not in the media, and not in government, then we are doomed. Civilization is doomed. Humanity is doomed. And to bring it full circle, science is doomed too.

Imagine if a significant fraction of the world’s population had a basic understanding of deep time, deep space, and deep complexity. It would mean emergent social intelligence.
It would be nothing less than childhood’s end for Humanity.

Of particular interest to me are the fields of computational citizen science (mainly biology and astronomy) and institutional citizen science.

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