The scientific method is among the most important developments in history, as it allows ideas to be rigorously tested and vetted before they’re considered fact. Or at least that was the intention.
Many fields of study, especially the humanities and medicine, are suffering from a “replication crisis” wherein reported findings are difficult to reproduce when someone tries to run the same experiment under the same conditions. The suggested reasons are many but they all boil down to this: the incentives of the academics are misaligned towards clickbait instead of science.
The number of research papers and attention from the masses has become valued over genuine insight, as this is how funding gets given to the most famous names, instead of the most worthy. For science to get out of its current rut and once again prioritize the truth over clickbait, it must build a reputation system.
In other words, instead of chasing after external approval, scientists ought to build reputations and relationships over time by providing quality insights. This is difficult to do, but one means by which you could do it is via blockchain technology.
Blockchain, as an immutable ledger and relation tracker, may just be able to do that by assigning reputations to people whose papers have been published. To further be able to make use of this reputation, you could structure the blockchain itself as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), a blockchain entity that allows users to vote and decide on policies in an organic way.
To a certain extent, reputation scores already exist in the scientific community. After all, journals on which papers are published have so-called “Impact Factors” that reflects the yearly average number of citations of articles published in the last two years.
These Impact Factors are used as a rule of thumb to assess the quality of a journal within a field, as those with higher impact factor values are often deemed to be more important, or carry more intrinsic prestige in their respective fields, than those with lower values. Yet, this is too rudimentary, and one can see how it can be abused by producing self-referential content at a large scale.
Instead, there should be a rating system that follows academics from paper to paper, and that other DAO members can vote on. Furthermore, if a study is found to be unreproducible, then the original publishers of the research ought to be penalized, while the fact-checker is rewarded, assuming that they too pass peer-review.
Then, in time, as reputations are maintained over the course of decades, you can begin to make requirements dependent on maintaining a trustworthy reputation for a number of years. This is the future, wherein we stop promoting garbage science for the sake of impressing the uneducated, or publishing papers with bad methodologies for easy wins.
If we are to benefit from the scientific method, we must bring that careful scrutiny and open-mindedness to the methods themselves. The open method wherein papers are primarily there to shock and awe has created the replication crisis.
Science should be retaken and used to further humanity’s benefit. And the first step in which we can do this is by adopting the clear improvements provided to us by modern technology.
DAOs are a means by which we can tabulate the merit of ideas in a decentralized manner, and they have far further applications than merely deciding on governance policies for crypto projects. If utilized correctly, they might well create a scientific golden age.
Yet in order for that to happen, we must plant the seeds now. The WACEO is a non-profit blockchain advisory organization that can help structure DAOs to be legally compliant, scalable and optimized for their intended purpose.
The scientific method gave us the modern world, but for our next step forward we must modernize the scientific method itself!
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