In contrast to many other human endeavors, science pays little attention to its history. Fundamental scientific discoveries are often considered to be timeless and independent of how they were made. Science and the history of science are regarded as independent academic disciplines. Although most scientists are aware of great discoveries in their fields and their association with the names of individual scientists, few know the detailed stories behind the discoveries. Indeed, the history of scientific discovery is sometimes recorded only in informal accounts that may be inaccurate or biased for self-serving reasons. Scientific papers are generally written in a formulaic style that bears no relationship to the actual process of discovery. Here we examine why scientists should care more about the history of science. A better understanding of history can illuminate social influences on the scientific process, allow scientists to learn from previous errors, and provide a greater appreciation for the importance of serendipity in scientific discovery. Moreover, history can help to assign credit where it is due and call attention to evolving ethical standards in science. History can make science better.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases