One of the books that has most shaped my view of the world is Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. In it, the narrator describes his philosophy of how people’s minds are like clockwork, with every fact we know serving as a tooth in a cog. In many ways, though, we are missing teeth. Either we are unintentionally blinded to truth because of the environment in which we were raised, or we purposely deny truths because they do not fit nicely with our mental constructs. He says, “I… will say that I have never tampered with a single tooth in my thought machine, such as it is. There are teeth missing, God knows -- some I was born without, teeth that will never grow. And other teeth have been stripped by the clutchless shifts of history -- But never have I willfully destroyed a tooth on a gear of my thinking machine. Never have I said to myself, 'This fact I can do without.’” As a scientist, my greatest quest is to find truth and to try to fill the gaps in our understanding of the world. Yet, one of my greatest fears is that, knowingly or unknowingly, I am missing teeth in my gears.
first lecture with TJ Murphy struck home with me not only because it brought to
light the “reproducibility crisis,” but it also reminded me of my part in it. I
see that we today are standing upon the shoulders of giants. Everything that we
know and believe to be truth is based upon the years of work of those before
us. Though I am astounded by the brilliance, creativity, and passion of our predecessors,
a part of me is also frightened. How much of what we take for granted is actually
truth? In what ways do I contribute to the reproducibility crisis, and where
does my own blindness come into light? How can I help promote an environment
of scientific integrity? Christopher
Pannucci and Edwin Wilkins cite the many different forms of biases that can
distort an investigator’s ability to assess their findings, so I must confront
and address my biases head-on before starting a project. As stated in The
Economist, science is not necessarily self-correcting, so my fellow
researchers and I must begin the movement to be more open about science as a
powerful, yet fallible, tool for approaching our world’s many questions.