Science + History —> better Science

I recently read an interview of Lorraine Daston, a reputed historian of science on “Does Science Need History?”
She was interviewed by the philosopher Samuel Loncar

The long-form discussion is about history of science and how and why it is relevant not only to the public but also to the practicing scientists.

In the later part of the interview , I found an interesting and important observation made by Lorraine :

“One of the greatest achievements of science, contrary to what anyone would have thought not just circa 1700 but circa 1800, is the creation of the only effective international governance system that we have. In the face of two planetary crises—climate change and a global pandemic—it has not been the UN, it has not been the G8, that got together to diagnose the problem and suggest a solution. It has been the international community of scientists, and I would be extremely loath in any way to undermine the only example of semi-effective international governance we have.”

This is probably one of the important comments on science I have come across in recent times. In an age where nation-states are still fighting (big and small) wars, this is indeed a profound reminder on what truly is the instrument of effective (inter)national governance.

Do check out the whole interview. It has many interesting strands, branches and discussion including philosophy of science, publishing and some great references to explore.
As I have mentioned previously in my blogs, part of the reason why I blog is to bring out the human side of doing science. Interviews like these reinforces this thought, and encourages me as scientist to look into the history of science as not something decoupled from the science itself, but as a part of ones research in understanding why we, as human beings, are interested in science. In my opinion, our science education (and research) will be vastly enriched by including and emphasizing history of science as integral part of science. Frequently, I have also found that some of the best commentaries and criticism on science as human endeavor emnating from historians of science.

After all, it was history of science which opened our eyes towards understanding the structure of scientific revolutions. Hence Science + History —> better Science, and perhaps better human beings !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s