Scientific community

Descriptive and normative

On heuristic mechanism and institutional design for communities of scientific practice for the common property resource that is human knowledge. Sociology of science, in other words. How do diverse underfunded teams manage to advance truth with their weird prestige economy despite the many pitfalls of publication filters and such? What is effective in designing communities, practice and social norms? How much communication is too much? How much iconoclasm is right to defeat groupthink and foster the spread of good ideas?

A place to file questions like this, in other words (O’Connor and Wu 2021):

Diversity of practice is widely recognized as crucial to scientific progress. If all scientists perform the same tests in their research, they might miss important insights that other tests would yield. If all scientists adhere to the same theories, they might fail to explore other options which, in turn, might be superior. But the mechanisms that lead to this sort of diversity can also generate epistemic harms when scientific communities fail to reach swift consensus on successful theories. In this paper, we draw on extant literature using network models to investigate diversity in science. We evaluate different mechanisms from the modeling literature that can promote transient diversity of practice, keeping in mind ethical and practical constraints posed by real epistemic communities. We ask: what are the best ways to promote the right amount of diversity of practice in such communities?


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