Children learn how science works mainly from fact-filled textbooks. The wider public experiences scientific discovery second-hand, through best-seller books, newspapers and television, as well as online formats like science blogs and TED Talks. Even for many undergraduate science students, the majority of hands-on experience comes from lab exercises which aim to support textbook learning, rather than further scientific research.
As a result, we live in a world where everyone talks about science, but hardly anyone does it. Only a minuscule fraction of the planet’s population, an elite of professional scientists at the top of an intellectual pyramid, produces the science that appears in textbooks and on TV. The rest of the world consumes scientific facts or is force-fed them in school, often resulting in conceptual indigestion and sometimes lifelong science phobia.
In a world where the number of people with the means to contribute to science is exploding, thanks to to the internet, mobile devices, rapid economic growth and improved access to education, this situation is bound to change. That’s why I believe we need to define a new type of science that inverts the traditional intellectual pyramid: upscience.