Scientific community

The scientific community is a diverse network of interacting scientists. It includes many "sub-communities" working on particular scientific fields, and within particular institutions; interdisciplinary and cross-institutional activities are also significant. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method. Peer review, through discussion and debate within journals and conferences, assists in this objectivity by maintaining the quality of research methodology and interpretation of results.[1]

History of scientific communities

The eighteenth century had some societies made up of men who studied nature, also known as natural philosophers and natural historians, which included even amateurs. As such these societies were more like local clubs and groups with diverse interests than actual scientific communities, which usually had interests on specialized disciplines.[2] Though there were a few older societies of men who studied nature such as the Royal Society of London, the concept of scientific communities emerged in the second half of the 19th century, not before, because it was in this century that the language of modern science emerged, the professionalization of science occurred, specialized institutions were created, and the specialization of scientific disciplines and fields occurred.[2]

For instance, the term scientist was first coined by the naturalist-theologian William Whewell in 1834 and the wider acceptance of the term along with the growth of specialized societies allowed for researchers to see themselves as a part of a wider imagined community, similar to the concept of nationhood.[2]

Membership, status and interactions

Membership in the community is generally, but not exclusively, a function of education, employment status, research activity and institutional affiliation. Status within the community is highly correlated with publication record,[3] and also depends on the status within the institution and the status of the institution.[4] Researchers can hold roles of different degrees of influence inside the scientific community. Researchers of a stronger influence can act as mentors for early career researchers and steer the direction of research in the community like agenda setters.[5] Scientists are usually trained in academia through universities. As such, degrees in the relevant scientific sub-disciplines are often considered prerequisites in the relevant community. In particular, the PhD with its research requirements functions as a marker of being an important integrator into the community, though continued membership is dependent on maintaining connections to other researchers through publication, technical contributions, and conferences. After obtaining a PhD an academic scientist may continue through being on an academic position, receiving a post-doctoral fellowships and onto professorships. Other scientists make contributions to the scientific community in alternate ways such as in industry, education, think tanks, or the government.

Members of the same community do not need to work together.[1] Communication between the members is established by disseminating research work and hypotheses through articles in peer reviewed journals, or by attending conferences where new research is presented and ideas exchanged and discussed. There are also many informal methods of communication of scientific work and results as well. And many in a coherent community may actually not communicate all of their work with one another, for various professional reasons.

Speaking for the scientific community

Unlike in previous centuries when the community of scholars were all members of few learned societies and similar institutions, there are no singular bodies or individuals which can be said today to speak for all science or all scientists. This is partly due to the specialized training most scientists receive in very few fields. As a result, many would lack expertise in all the other fields of the sciences. For instance, due to the increasing complexity of information and specialization of scientists, most of the cutting-edge research today is done by well funded groups of scientists, rather than individuals.[6] However, there are still multiple societies and academies in many countries which help consolidate some opinions and research to help guide public discussions on matters of policy and government-funded research. For example, the United States' National Academy of Science (NAS) and United Kingdom's Royal Society sometimes act as surrogates when the opinions of the scientific community need to be ascertained by policy makers or the national government, but the statements of the National Academy of Science or the Royal Society are not binding on scientists nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of every scientist in a given community since membership is often exclusive, their commissions are explicitly focused on serving their governments, and they have never "shown systematic interest in what rank-and file scientists think about scientific matters".[7] Exclusivity of membership in these types of organizations can be seen in their election processes in which only existing members can officially nominate others for candidacy of membership.[8][9] It is very unusual for organizations like the National Academy of Science to engage in external research projects since they normally focus on preparing scientific reports for government agencies.[10] An example of how rarely the NAS engages in external and active research can be seen in its struggle to prepare and overcome hurdles, due to its lack of experience in coordinating research grants and major research programs on the environment and health.[10]

Nevertheless, general scientific consensus is a concept which is often referred to when dealing with questions that can be subject to scientific methodology. While the consensus opinion of the community is not always easy to ascertain or fix due to paradigm shifting, generally the standards and utility of the scientific method have tended to ensure, to some degree, that scientists agree on some general corpus of facts explicated by scientific theory while rejecting some ideas which run counter to this realization. The concept of scientific consensus is very important to science pedagogy, the evaluation of new ideas, and research funding. Sometimes it is argued that there is a closed shop bias within the scientific community toward new ideas. Protoscience, fringe science, and pseudoscience have been topics that discuss demarcation problems. In response to this some non-consensus claims skeptical organizations, not research institutions, have devoted considerable amounts of time and money contesting ideas which run counter to general agreement on a particular topic.

Philosophers of science argue over the epistemological limits of such a consensus and some, including Thomas Kuhn, have pointed to the existence of scientific revolutions in the history of science as being an important indication that scientific consensus can, at times, be wrong. Nevertheless, the sheer explanatory power of science in its ability to make accurate and precise predictions and aid in the design and engineering of new technology has ensconced "science" and, by proxy, the opinions of the scientific community as a highly respected form of knowledge both in the academy and in popular culture.

Political controversies

The high regard with which scientific results are held in Western society has caused a number of political controversies over scientific subjects to arise. An alleged conflict thesis proposed in the 19th century between religion and science has been cited by some as representative of a struggle between tradition and substantial change and faith and reason.. A popular example used to support this thesis is when Galileo was tried before the Inquisition concerning the heliocentric model.[11] The persecution began after Pope Urban VIII permitted Galileo to write about the Copernican model. Galileo had used arguments from the Pope and put them in the voice of the simpleton in the work "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" which caused great offense to him.[12] Even though many historians of science have discredited the conflict thesis [13] it still remains a popular belief among many including some scientists. In more recent times, the creation-evolution controversy has resulted in many religious believers in a supernatural creation to challenge some naturalistic assumptions that have been proposed in some of the branches of scientific fields such as evolutionary biology, geology, and astronomy. Although the dichotomy seems to be of a different outlook from a Continental European perspective, it does exist. The Vienna Circle, for instance, had a paramount (i.e. symbolic) influence on the semiotic regime represented by the Scientific Community in Europe.

In the decades following World War II, some were convinced that nuclear power would solve the pending energy crisis by providing energy at low cost. This advocacy led to the construction of many nuclear power plants, but was also accompanied by a global political movement opposed to nuclear power due to safety concerns and associations of the technology with nuclear weapons. Mass protests in the United States and Europe during the 1970s and 1980s along with the disasters of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island led to a decline in nuclear power plant construction.

In the last decades or so, both global warming and stem cells have placed the opinions of the scientific community in the forefront of political debate.

See also

References and external articles

  1. ^ a b Kornfeld, W; Hewitt, CE (1981). "The Scientific Community Metaphor" (PDF). IEEE Trans. Sys., Man, and Cyber. SMC-11 (1): 24–33. doi:10.1109/TSMC.1981.4308575.
  2. ^ a b c Cahan, David (2003). "Institutions and Communities". In Cahan, David (ed.). From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences: Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 291–328. ISBN 978-0226089287.
  3. ^ Yearley, Steven; Collins, Harry M. (1992), "Epistemological chicken", in Pickering, Andrew (ed.), Science as practice and culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 301–326, ISBN 9780226668017.
  4. ^ Höhle, Ester (2015). From apprentice to agenda-setter: comparative analysis of the influence of contract conditions on roles in the scientific community. Studies in Higher Education 40(8), 1423-1437.
  5. ^ Höhle, Ester (2015). From apprentice to agenda-setter: comparative analysis of the influence of contract conditions on roles in the scientific community. Studies in Higher Education 40(8), 1423-1437.
  6. ^ Simonton, Dean Keith (2013). "After Einstein: Scientific genius is extinct". Nature. 493 (7434): 602. doi:10.1038/493602a. PMID 23364725.
  7. ^ Fuller, Steve (2007). Dissent Over Descent. Icon. p. 25. ISBN 9781840468045.
  8. ^ Bruce Alberts, Kenneth R. Fulton (24 May 2005). "Election to the National Academy of Sciences: Pathways to membership". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102 (21): 7405–7406. doi:10.1073/pnas.0503457102. PMC 1140467. PMID 16586925.
  9. ^ "Election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society".
  10. ^ a b Shen, Helen (2013). "Oil money takes US academy into uncharted waters". Nature. 494 (7437): 295. doi:10.1038/494295a. PMID 23426305.
  11. ^ Page 37 John Hedley Brooke: Science and Religion – Some Historical Perspectives, Cambridge 1991
  12. ^ "Galileo Project - Pope Urban VIII Biography".
  13. ^ Ferngren, Gary (2002). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. Introduction, p.ix–x. ISBN 978-0-8018-7038-5.
Sociologies of science
History and philosophy of science
Other articles

Anomalistics is the use of scientific methods to evaluate anomalies (phenomena that fall outside current understanding), with the aim of finding a rational explanation. The term itself was coined in 1973 by Drew University anthropologist Roger W. Wescott, who defined it as being the "serious and systematic study of all phenomena that fail to fit the picture of reality provided for us by common sense or by the established sciences."Wescott credited journalist and researcher Charles Fort as being the creator of anomalistics as a field of research, and he named biologist Ivan T. Sanderson and Sourcebook Project compiler William R. Corliss as being instrumental in expanding anomalistics to introduce a more conventional perspective into the field.Henry Bauer, emeritus professor of science studies at Virginia Tech, writes that anomalistics is "a politically correct term for the study of bizarre claims", while David J. Hess of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute describes it as being "the scientific study of anomalies defined as claims of phenomena not generally accepted by the bulk of the scientific community."Anomalistics covers several sub-disciplines, including ufology, cryptozoology, and parapsychology. Researchers involved in the field have included ufologist J. Allen Hynek and cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, and parapsychologist John Hayes.


CODEN – according to ASTM standard E250 – is a six character, alphanumeric bibliographic code, that provides concise, unique and unambiguous identification of the titles of periodicals and non-serial publications from all subject areas.

CODEN became particularly common in the scientific community as a citation system for periodicals cited in technical and chemistry-related publications and as a search tool in many bibliographic catalogues.


Clairvoyance (; from French clair meaning "clear" and voyance meaning "vision") is the alleged ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or physical event through extrasensory perception. Any person who is claimed to have such ability is said accordingly to be a clairvoyant () ("one who sees clearly").

Claims for the existence of paranormal and psychic abilities such as clairvoyance have not been supported by scientific evidence published in high impact factor peer reviewed journals. Parapsychology explores this possibility, but the existence of the paranormal is not accepted by the scientific community. Parapsychology, including the study of clairvoyance, is an example of pseudoscience.


COS-B was the first European Space Research Organisation mission to study cosmic gamma ray sources. COS-B was first put forward by the European scientific community in the mid-1960s and approved by the ESRO council in 1969. The mission consisted of a satellite containing gamma-ray detectors, which was launched by NASA on behalf of the ESRO on August 9, 1975. The mission was completed on April 25, 1982, after the satellite had been operational for more than 6.5 years, four years longer than planned and had increased the amount of data on gamma rays by a factor of 25. Scientific results included the 2CG Catalogue listing around 25 gamma ray sources and a map of the Milky Way. The satellite also observed the X-ray binary Cygnus X-3.

Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel (known as The Discovery Channel from 1985 to 1995, and often referred to as simply Discovery) is an American pay television network and flagship channel owned by Discovery, Inc., a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. As of June 2012, Discovery Channel is the third most widely distributed subscription channel in the United States, behind TBS and The Weather Channel; it is available in 409 million households worldwide, through its U.S. flagship channel and its various owned or licensed television channels internationally.It initially provided documentary television programming focused primarily on popular science, technology, and history, but by the 2010s had expanded into reality television and pseudo-scientific entertainment. Programming on the flagship Discovery Channel in the U.S. is primarily focused on reality television series, such as speculative investigation (with shows such as MythBusters, Unsolved History, and Best Evidence), automobiles, and occupations (such as Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch); it also features documentaries specifically aimed at families and younger audiences.

A popular annual feature on the channel is Shark Week, which airs on Discovery during the summer months. Despite its popularity and success, the program has garnered criticism, especially from the scientific community, for being scientifically inaccurate.As of September 2018, Discovery Channel is available to approximately 88,589,000 pay television households in the United States.

Esquel (meteorite)

Esquel is a meteorite found near Esquel, a patagonian town in the northwest part of the province of Chubut in Argentina. It is a pallasite, a type of stony–iron meteorite that when cut and polished shows yellowish olivine (peridot) crystals.

In 1951 a farmer uncovered a meteorite in an unknown location near Esquel while digging a hole for a water tank. The meteorite was purchased from the finders and taken to the United States in 1992 by meteorite expert Robert Haag. The Esquel pallasite is known worldwide among collectors and the meteoritical scientific community. Esquel is regarded as one of the most beautiful meteorites ever found and is also one of the most desirable pallasites among meteorite collectors. It is a main group pallasite (MGP).


Evolutionism is a term used (often derogatorily) to denote the theory of evolution. Its exact meaning has changed over time as the study of evolution has progressed. In the 19th century, it was used to describe the belief that organisms deliberately improved themselves through progressive inherited change (orthogenesis). The teleological belief went on to include cultural evolution and social evolution. In the 1970s the term Neo-Evolutionism was used to describe the idea "that human beings sought to preserve a familiar style of life unless change was forced on them by factors that were beyond their control".The term is most often used by creationists to describe adherence to the scientific consensus on evolution as equivalent to a secular religion. The term is very seldom used within the scientific community, since the scientific position on evolution is accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists. Because evolutionary biology is the default scientific position, it is assumed that "scientists" or "biologists" are "evolutionists" unless specifically noted otherwise. In the creation–evolution controversy, creationists often call those who accept the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis "evolutionists" and the theory itself "evolutionism".

Family (biology)

Family (Latin: familia, plural familiae) is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

What does or does not belong to a family—or whether a described family should be recognized at all—are proposed and determined by practicing taxonomists. There are no hard rules for describing or recognizing a family. Taxonomists often take different positions about descriptions, and there may be no broad consensus across the scientific community for some time. The publishing of new data and opinion often enables adjustments and consensus.

Fringe science

Fringe science is an inquiry in an established field of study which departs significantly from mainstream theories in that field and is considered to be questionable by the mainstream.

Fringe science may be either a questionable application of a scientific approach to a field of study or an approach whose status as scientific is widely questioned.

For mainstream scientists, attributes of fringe science include being highly speculative or relying on premises already refuted. Fringe science theories are often advanced by persons who have no traditional academic science background, or by researchers outside the mainstream discipline. The general public has difficulty distinguishing between science and its imitators, and in some cases a "yearning to believe or a generalized suspicion of experts is a very potent incentive to accepting pseudoscientific claims".The term "fringe science" covers everything from novel hypotheses which can be tested by means of the scientific method to wild ad hoc hypotheses and mumbo jumbo. This has resulted in a tendency to dismiss all fringe science as the domain of pseudoscientists, hobbyists, and cranks.Other terms for questionable types of science are pathological science, voodoo science, and cargo cult science. The term junk science is used to criticize research seen as dubious or fraudulent, as opposed to "solid science".

A concept that was once accepted by the mainstream scientific community may become fringe science because of a later evaluation of previous research. For example, focal infection theory, which held that focal infections of the tonsils or teeth are a primary cause of systemic disease, was once considered to be medical fact. It has since been dismissed because of lack of evidence.

Hindu astrology

Jyotisha or Jyotishya (from Sanskrit jyotiṣa, from jyóti- "light, heavenly body") is the traditional Hindu system of astrology, also known as Hindu astrology, and more recently Vedic astrology. The term Hindu astrology has been in use as the English equivalent of Jyotiṣa since the early 19th century, whereas Vedic astrology is a relatively recent term, entering common usage in the 1970s with self-help publications on Āyurveda or yoga. Vedanga Jyotishya is one of the earliest texts about astronomy within the Vedas. However, some authors have claimed that the horoscopic astrology practiced in the Indian subcontinent came from Hellenistic influences, post-dating the Vedic period. Some authors argue that in the mythologies Ramayana and Mahabharata, only electional astrology, omens, dreams and physiognomy are used but there have been several articles and blogs published which cites multiple references in those books about rashi(zodiac sign) based astrology.

Following a judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001 which favoured astrology, some Indian universities now offer advanced degrees in Hindu astrology, despite protest from the scientific community. Astrology is rejected as pseudoscience by the scientific community, but the government did not agree.

Leibniz Association

The Leibniz Association (German: Leibniz-Gemeinschaft or Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz) is a union of German non-university research institutes from various branches of study.

In 2017, 91 non-university research institutes and service device for science belong to the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft. The fields range from natural science, engineering, and ecology, to economics, other social sciences, spatial science, and humanities. The Leibniz Institutes work in an interdisciplinary fashion, and connect basic and applied science. They cooperate with universities, industry, and other partners in different parts of the world. Combined, the Leibniz Institutes employ 20,000 people and have a budget of €1.9 billion. Leibniz Institutes are funded publicly to equal parts by the federal government and the Federal states (Bundesländer).

Every Leibniz institution is evaluated by the Leibniz Senate regularly, at a minimum of once every seven years. The evaluation is used as a benchmark of quality with respect to the work and research carried out by the institutes.

Maxine Singer

Maxine Frank Singer (born February 15, 1931) is an American molecular biologist and science administrator. She is known for her contributions to solving the genetic code, her role in the ethical and regulatory debates on recombinant DNA techniques (including the organization of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA), and her leadership of Carnegie Institution of Washington.

In 2002, Discover magazine recognized her as one of the 50 most important women in science.

Moni people

The Moni (also known as the Migani, the Megani, the Djonggunu, or the Jonggunu) are an indigenous people in the Indonesian Paniai regency (kabupaten) of the Papua province (formerly Central Irian Jaya) of West Papua (western part of the island of New Guinea). They speak the Moni language. They revere a large black and white whistling tree kangaroo called a bondegzeu as an ancestor. The bondegzeu was unknown to the scientific community until the zoologist Tim Flannery described it in 1995.

Normal science

Normal science, identified and elaborated on by Thomas Samuel Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is the regular work of scientists theorizing, observing, and experimenting within a settled paradigm or explanatory framework. Regarding science as puzzle-solving, Kuhn explained normal science as slowly accumulating detail in accord with established broad theory, without questioning or challenging the underlying assumptions of that theory.

Plant perception (paranormal)

Plant perception or biocommunication is the paranormal idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP, and that they experience pain and fear. The idea is not accepted by the scientific community, as plants lack nervous systems. Paranormal claims in regard to plant perception are considered to be pseudoscience by many in the scientific community.The idea is distinct from measured plant perception and chemical communication.

Science and technology in Italy

Science and technology in Italy has a long presence, from the Roman era and the Renaissance. Through the centuries, Italy has advanced the scientific community which produced many significant inventions and discoveries in biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy and the other sciences.

Scientific consensus

Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity.Consensus is achieved through communication at conferences, the publication process, replication (of reproducible results by others), scholarly debate, and peer review. These lead to a situation in which those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists; however, communicating to outsiders that consensus has been reached can be difficult, because the "normal" debates through which science progresses may appear to outsiders as contestation. On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the "inside" to the "outside" of the scientific community. In cases where there is little controversy regarding the subject under study, establishing the consensus can be quite straightforward.

Popular or political debate on subjects that are controversial within the public sphere but not necessarily controversial within the scientific community may invoke scientific consensus: note such topics as evolution, climate change, or the lack of a link between MMR vaccinations and autism.

Sphingobacteria (phylum)

Sphingobacteria is a division (phylum), created by Cavalier-Smith, which contains the classes Chlorobea, Fibrobacteres, Bacteroidetes and Flavobacteria.It is however not followed by the larger scientific community. The group is commonly referred to as the "FCB group" with the rank of superphylum and the subdivisions are of the rank phylum and are referred to as:

Chlorobi (Chlorobea in Cavalier-Smith megaclassification)

Bacteroidetes, which differs from Cavalier-Smith megaclassification as it is composed of the classes Bacteroidia (equivalent to Cavalier-Smith's Bacteroidetes), Cytophagia and Flavobacteria and Sphingobacteria

FibrobacteresAn analogous situation is seen with the PVC group/Planctobacteria.


Telepathy (from the Greek τῆλε, tele meaning "distant" and πάθος, pathos or -patheia meaning "feeling, perception, passion, affliction, experience") is the purported vicarious transmission of information from one person to another without using any known human sensory channels or physical interaction. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Frederic W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the earlier expression thought-transference.Telepathy experiments have historically been criticized for lack of proper controls and repeatability. There is no convincing evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.



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