Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CUDOS in science

Here's something I hadn't seen before.

I've thought that it's interesting that there isn't a Hippocratic oath for scientists (scientists didn't exist in the days of Hippocrates). It turns out there are norms of scientific society.

I read about this in Wootton's book, but hadn't ever heard about them. Apparently, these norms were described in 1942 by Merton in his description of the sociology of science.

The norms of science go by the acronym of CUDOS:

Organized Skepticism

The wikipedia page describes them fairly well. As does this blog post.

In short, these norms describe the ideals of science. The results should be open to everyone. Ideas (and opportunities) are evaluated blind to the characteristics of the individual. Scientists report results independent of the consequences of the outcome. All ideas are subject to scrutiny.

Wootton's analogy between science and the law in these norms is pretty interesting. The legal profession holds similar ideas**. For example, evidence should never be withheld to opposing parties, which is similar to communalism.

**Though Wootton does not delve into it, the adversarial nature of legal actions is not replicated generally in science even though there is still a tradition of a "defense" of theses or dissertations.

Most scientists believe they deserve more kudos for the work they do. Apparently CUDOS are built into science.

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