On the YASMIN discussion list, ( )  I just launched a provocation that in the STEM to STEAM discussion the burden of evidence or normally put on the arts/design/humanities, They are asked to  justify the worth of new approaches of art/sci/tech. ie integrate art/design ‘into’science and engineering. But what if a key need and opportunity is to redesign science itself as part of this process ?.

In 2008 as the impact of the data age was becoming apparent, Chris Anderson proclaimed that

THE END OF THEORY: THE DATA DELUGE MAKES THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OBSOLETE (  ) That was ten years ago- and I don’t think he is proving totally wrong ( deep learning and the new AI are charging with pattern recognition ++ not many provable equations ?)

So here is my new entry point into Chris Anderson’s ‘shout”.

Pier Luigi Capucci gathered us in Bologna for a Leonardo 50 birthday party and one of the topics was:
“The Countries in the Mediterranean Rim, and more in general all European countries, have a long history and heritage in art and culture, that can be valued through new disciplines, sciences and technologies. “The New and History”, which is the general art*science title, suggests a relationship between two concepts seemingly in opposition, that instead can and must coexist. The “new”, “innovation,” has its foundation in history but it can and must revive its heritage in the future, through arts, scientific disciplines and technologies. This is a key element, from cultural, historical, social and economic viewpoints.”
Pier Luigi Capucci

So here is the posit:

One of the major cultural heritages of the mediterranean is western science and its scientific method itself – with the lineage to so many schools of thought in Mesopotamia, the arab world, southern europe and the southern bank of the Mediterranean and then of course the various ‘amber roads’ between the mediterranean and northern europe. ( and yes Indian and Chinese science followed parallel routes)

So maybe one answer to pier luigi is that the mediterranean region needs to take a lead in re-inventing science itself as part of stem to steam thinking, maybe because of its heritage it is well placed to anser pier-luigi’s challenge ?: . “The “new”, “innovation,” has its foundation in history but it can and must revive its heritage in the future, through arts, scientific disciplines and technologies.”PLC

Maybe we can rebuild  Amber roads to reinvent and redesign science ? Deep in this is also the idea of how Diasporas have been crucial elements of cultural invention, and in particular in science ( beyond the Mediterranean Diasporas, think of the indian and chinese student Diasporas in european and north american universities today that will inevitably alter the nature of science in the 21st century) ( how will the injection of indian and chinese – see science and scientific heritage into world science and scientific method lead to deep changes  in the scientific method itself ?) (probably worth re reading Leonardo founding member Joseph Needham’s work)

PS the amber road reference is because the topic was introduced by Jadwiga Charzynska from Poland as a new YASMIN moderator  see: (  ) between Gdansk and the Mediterranean !


This is a recent idea that I have been  mulling as I have been going around the leo50 events in Manizales, Rio, Bologna so far- and finding the scientific community itself much more receptive to the art science discussion than 10 years ago. The stem to steam discussion often focuses the discussion of evidence that integrated things are worthy with the burden on art/design/humanities to prove themselves
– but there is a line of argument that science itself  needs to be redesigned  and this is one way that stem to steam could  be generative

– eg the scientific method itself has changed dramatically scientific revolution/enlightenment set in motion what we currently call the scientific method in the ‘west” (thank you bacon, newton, Leibnitz, Darwin, einstein…yeah all men…)

eg- our ideas of causality are very different than in the time of Bacon or Newton or Faraday the idea of an equation often embodies ideas of cause and effect that are ‘reducible’ ie take vitamin c and you will
be healthier or shoot an arrow and it hits an apple ideas of causality have shifted with thermodynamics statistical ideas of causality took hold, with quantum mechanics fundamental uncertainties ( never mind discussions on retrocausality see jack sarfatti’s work), with complexity theory the idea of simple causality vanish ( you can’t write an equation for climate change, mental health is a complex interaction of biology and environment and experience)

Paul Thomas who is organising a STEM to STEAM panel in Plymouth during the Balance Un Balance conference next month argues:

” Distinguishing the difference between internationally recognized methods of empirical science (experimentation and verification in technical procedures or laboratory scenarios) and the modes of diagnosis, experimentation, play, trial, failure, inspiration and invention in the creative practices characteristic of the artist’s studio;” Paul Thomas

This highlights a 19th century idea of the scientific method- what is a 21 century one? how do you observe things that we have no sensory access to, verify causal chains that are not reducible to a one variable controlled experiment ( cf the turmoil in science on lack of reproducibility of many scientific results) ( I know I am mixing epistemological and social issues)

– the other area is of course the scientific method has not been revised to take into account the data age as chris anderson argued 20 years later ( dan boorstin called this an epistemological revolution
and he was right)- data is no longer rare as it was in the time of Einstein and what did astronomers discover with all the data ? that 90 % of the universe is unobservable with light ! we have the wrong data- hence the new generations of dark matter and dark energy experiments ( probably due to how astronomy has been badly biased because of its fixation on light due to human sensorium not on basic principles !)

finally to follow on the comment on the emergence of the ‘dark in astronomy, the scientific method is embedded in ideas of cognitive science that have now been overtaken- the universe doesnt necessary work the way the human mind is built to understand-how do we understand the way the functioning of the human mind biases the scientific method and creates blind spots ? how do we redesign the scientific method as a result of the new cognitive science ?

and then of course the socio/technological context of science is dramatically different from when the scientific method was invented ( does gender bias in science reflect one of the cognitive biases the
human mind has imposed on  science ?), ( ok Latour its more complicated than that),  the relationship of science to society ( a la socially robust science of Helga Nowotny)- why didnt
the scientific method anticipate climate change but instead contributed to it ? (ok ok) its touchy territory- because there are embedded values in the scientific method that are rarely discussed ( eg
Sarukkai and the Ethics of Curiosity). Is the scientific method itself obsolete and needs re inventing ?

Is that a possible outcome of the STEM to STEAM movement and the new amber roads we need to build across all our cultures  ?


Roger Malina

Club Equinox, Oak Lawn, Dallas

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