Ten steps to make Canada a leader in science

Lee Smolin, Maclean's, Nov 27, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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Following from yesterday's discussion of science in Canada, we have today this post from Lee Smolin in Maclean's. Essentially, the advice is to focus on emerging leaders in promising domains overlooked by other institutions, to invest heavily in them, and to give them free reign, rewarding discoveries rather than citations or publications. I'm sure many scientists would nod in agreement. But it's the 'big man' theory of science, focused on rewarding a few stars (mostly just for being stars) and in my view it places at risk the overall scientific infrastructure in the country. The purpose of science isn't only to focus in this way. And you can't simply buy this focus from abroad, as Smolin suggests, you have to grow it at home, creating the field where emerging leaders can arise and promising international candidates can land. Science depends not on its stars (there's always a 'star') but on broad-based community support for science.

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