Scientific Innovation Author: Fred M. Cowan

The "information age" with accompanying "big science" has emphasized data generation, analytical thinking, and specialization. This may have had the unfortunate consequence of segregating mainstream science from the novel and abstract ideas, often created at the margins of science, that stimulate rapid progress and invention. Has too narrow a focus on empirical phenomena slowed the innovations that benefit society and prove the utility of science?

The perception that science has not sufficiently focused on the needs of society has surfaced among the lay population and elected officials, who ultimately control research funds. This is caused, in part, by false expectations that science would miraculously deliver mankind from disease, war, hunger, and so forth. However, with the current reality of strategic, results-oriented science as well as budget cuts, science can ill afford to revere dogma and maintain conventions that obstruct invention. This does not imply...

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