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Jul 20, 2023Liked by Adam Mastroianni

We need a universal basic income which would allow people to be creative, follow their interests, experiment and take risks without ruining their lives.

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UBI may be one of the few viable solutions to robots taking all the well-defined, highly-structured jobs. However, I don't think it will be an unequivocal boon to science and creativity. The "Information Superhighway" from the late 1990s promoted a utopian vision of information at our fingertips, which has partially been fulfilled (thank you Wikipedia). It also created a dystopian nightmare: we now tread water in a sea of irrelevance, lies, and misinformation. The librarian to the information that we *actually* want is an algorithm that mines our habits and eyeballs for sale to the highest advertiser.

Not all information is created equal. Not all science is created equal, and not all scientists are created equal. UBI will simultaneously encourage the birth of good ideas and the death of them by overcrowding. What good does a brilliant idea do if it's drowned in a sea of bad ones? If science is truly a strong-link problem, then UBI is only half of the equation; the other half is a *filtering mechanism* – a better one than our current system of peer review and the hoarding of citations as a form of social currency.

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universal basic income + universal basic services!

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how is this bizarro anti-vax bot comment still up? i reported it weeks ago.

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“The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for their own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want is abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased.”

― Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1879)

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Jul 20, 2023Liked by Adam Mastroianni

Your timing was great with the Stanford President, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, resigning yesterday for "research misconduct". Amateurs can't do worse than that.

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Jul 20, 2023Liked by Adam Mastroianni

A great example of a non-professional doing good science is the mycologist Paul Stamets. He's a major contributor to the field, written books and peer reviewed papers, discovered multiple new species of mushrooms, and helps run a company that does research on fungi and improving human health.

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I'm pretty sure Star Trek: Discovery named their chief engineer character (who happens to be an expert in space mushrooms) after that dude.

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I've been a member of this secret society for quite a few years--without even knowing it!--and strongly encourage others to join. It's fun.

I have two quibbles (because what would science be without quibbles?):

1) Your belief that "good work travels" is probably due to confirmation bias. You see work that travels. You don't see work, like mine, that doesn't (although I once rather embarrassingly made the front page of Ann Coulter's site with a now-long-lost analysis of why the dosimetry used to declare x-ray backscatter detectors safe is bogus).

So people should be really prepared for their work to fall into the abyss, which doesn't mean they shouldn't do it.

Do it for love. Do it because you want to KNOW. I personally have the bad habit of never getting around to writing up a great deal of what I do, because once I've answered a question to my own satisfaction I tend to move on to the next question rather than writing it up properly. My substack is an attempt to remedy that to some degree, but the reality is there's not a big audience for a lot of what I do (currently writing about why perpetual motion machines don't work, as a platform to explicate how weird thermodynamics is.)

2) There's a place for the term "citizen science", which is the kind of large-scale data collection efforts that people engage in. We have a local wildlife count where I am, for example, and organizations like Purple Air dot com that collate the information from air quality sensors are engaged in this as well. The thing that makes these "citizen science" is that they are collaborative effort between citizens engaged in what amounts to an act of civic virtue. That's a different thing than me chipping away at the fundamental of quantum theory via numerical solutions to Schrodinger's equation or whatever.

I love that you're promoting this stuff, and really hope people answer your call.

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1) You're right––maybe more accurate to say "good work *can* travel." Even good stuff can go nowhere, but people may be surprised by how small the internet is.

2) I wish we had a better word for this. When someone joins the lab and learns the ropes by doing grunt work (running subjects, etc) we call them a "research assistant." It's also fair to distinguish between being a participant in a large-scale project and coming up with ideas yourself. But it's easy to weaponize those terms to diminish the contributions of folks on the outside.

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Jul 21, 2023·edited Jul 22, 2023

I guess if you want to convey the civic role it would be important to refer to citizens, but otherwise I think "collaborator," " co-researcher,", "community expertise," "lay expertise," or even "crowdsourcing" could work just fine for breaking down those hierarchies.

I'm also interested in how all of this would play out for more qualitative research in social science (as opposed to something more STEM or experiment-based), where there's already some pushback against rigid boundaries and room to get a little creative, but also a complex about having to prove their legitimacy and insider/outsider issues. I feel like there's generally a lot of appreciation among qualitative researchers for a continuity between research in everyday life and in more formal or controlled settings (e.g. some of Svend Brinkmann's writings).

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This is fantastic. I am an avid gardener, and this reminds me of instances in gardening and agriculture where people will plant half an acre one way and half an acre another way, just to find out better ways to grow food and manage their operations.

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Wow, this was fascinating. I'm a fellow who respects science more than I love it, but this post inspires me to enjoy the art of doing science. I work as a health coach, researcher, and writer, so there are plenty of opportunities. Often it's just a matter of emphasizing strongly the replicateable, objective truth of how our bodies work.

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I'm getting involved with the experimental crop breeding community as a way to share the work on my experimental farm (zeroinputagriculture.substack.com). My hypothesis is that there are countless wild species that could be utilised in wide hybridisation (ala Luther Burbank, a perfect example of a self-trained scientist) to create new crops for a wide variety of purposes. With the climate shifting we may need to reinvent agriculture from the ground up.

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When the pandemic forced me to do remote work, I mothballed my usual vaccine development research and started hunting for weird new viruses hidden in public sequence repositories (e.g., NCBI Sequence Read Archive). I made prodigous use of the campus supercomputer - as well as several very expensive software packages - but there's a huge amount of fundamental cataloging work left to do that wouldn't require fancy tools.

I can't understand the attraction of Sudoku. Finding viruses is about a bajillion times more gratifying. The pandemic remote-work project was so engrossing it felt like it might be giving me some insight into what gambling addiction might be like. If somebody could figure out how to democratize the sequence-gazing, I can guarantee there'd be gold in them thar hills.

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This sounds like something that could be gamified. I'm not exactly looking for projects right now, but I'd be curious to learn more about what's involved. I'm a physicist and software professional who has worked in biology, mostly genomics rather than sequence stuff, which I've always been curious about as that's where a lot of the action is. And I know someone who might be interested in taking this kind of project on. I'd love to get a description of what it means to do the kind of work you're talking about.

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It's this sort of thing: https://academic.oup.com/ve/article/7/1/veaa055/5917032

Although the manuscript I'm currently wrapping up is on a >100x more massive scale. Even at the larger scale, I'm still barely scratching the surface of the 36 petabytes of SRA data

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/industries/nihs-sequence-read-archive-the-worlds-largest-genome-sequence-repository-openly-accessible-on-aws/

At face value, gamifying the virus-hunting strikes me as a hard problem - although I guess it's conceivable I'm looking down from a place of professional arrogance of the sort that might attract a metaphorical karate chop from Mastroianni. I'm aware of the fact that citizens who are scientists but don't happen to have PhDs actually did quite a lot of heavy lifting sequence-gazing Covid variants. People with passion can figure out all sorts of things for themselves.

Also, I have some gray in my beard. My trainees taught me the bioinformatic ropes, not the other way around. Younger digital native types might find this stuff easier to implement than I imagine.

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Fascinating. I agree that the scale of the data is daunting, but a lot of my background is in seeing how much data you can throw away and still get useful answers. I'll have a dig into this stuff, which is a step or two up from my current level of understanding, and see what comes out.

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Very excited to see this! Please let me know if anything results, I'd be happy to link to it.

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Jul 20, 2023Liked by Adam Mastroianni

I’m a PhD candidate who is interested in joining the discord! What’s the best way of giving you info to get in?

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author

You can reply to any Experimental History email you get from Substack; they go to my inbox.

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Jul 21, 2023Liked by Adam Mastroianni

I'd love an invite to your super-secret-science-discord!

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shoot me an email! you can reply to any Experimental History email

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deletedJul 21, 2023Liked by Adam Mastroianni
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Ditto––reply to any Experimental History email and I'll send you an invite

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Damn, this is sharp!! Thank you so much for putting this into writing.

If I translate/localize that to Portuguese and repost with due credit will you be mad at me?

Also: have you heard about https://ronininstitute.org/? Basically a way of getting together and providing support for independent scientists.

Cheers and congrats on the writing!

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I will not be mad!

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100%

Science isn't easily corruptible peer reviewed papers that cost millions of dollars. No, science is simply this: what is independently replicable.

We need the rise of the COWBOY SCIENTISTS again!

Want to see some easy science you can do at home? Know anyone with sever depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases like MS, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or type 2 diabetes? Do strict carnivore diet (lion diet - just beef alt and water) for 8 weeks and watch them cure themselves. Yes, CURE.

Look: https://joshketry.substack.com/p/carnivore-diet-saved-me-from-autoimmune

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Qualified food scientist here: I am so IN! Standing by to assist with whacky food science ideas from dabblers and lizards :)

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Also, by the way, check this kind of discussions that go on on iNaturalist by folks who are identifying a bug just because it is awesome

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/141415760

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There's so much new stuff being done on iNaturalist, it's incredible. New identification methods (field/photo ID instead of microscope dissection), new range expansions, new species, new behaviours, everything. I've found a new slug species for my province and a new arthropod family for Canada just by taking photos of random bugs I see, and 2 new species of hover flies for the United States by helping identify bugs other people see!

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Whoa this rules

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