Darlene Cavalier (bio, slides) is giving the most tangible talk they’ve had yet on the conference’s theme of “The Citizen Scientist.” She’s citing a number of anecdotes about small, nonprofessional organizations conducting experiments on their own, or amateur astronomers and entomologists making little discoveries. All very nice, but it’s hard to see how this constitutes a significant or new phenomenon, particularly since, despite lots of talk about its democratic nature, the most important science has increasingly become the purview exclusively of highly specialized and credentialed academics.

The one thing that Ms. Cavalier alluded to that would be noteworthy is the phenomenon of non-academic scientists getting regularly published in peer-reviewed journals, but she didn’t give much indication that this is happening a lot. More importantly, it’s still hard to see how the theme of “Citizen Science” is more than marginally related to transhumanism, and the talks haven’t done much to clarify that.

Darlene Cavalier on citizen science


  1. Ari, I aim to be tangible 🙂 I agree that it seems marginally connected to transhumanism. There may be some "citizen scientists" who are driven to design a future in line with transhumanism but, by and large, these are folks who care about specific matters and want to help contribute to research. In the process they are increasing their understanding of science and improving the world one firefly, lizard, river, or galaxy at a time. I'm still here at H+ if you'd like to talk about this. Take care, Ari.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Darlene. I can get behind "citizen science" if it means going to Maker Faire and the like, though obviously I'm not as crazy about the transhumanism aspects.

    I'm heading out soon after the conference ends, but maybe we'll catch each other before then.

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