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17-Jun-2008

Self-corrective nature of scientific knowledge

Open access and the self-correction of knowledge (SPARC), From the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, June 2, 2008. By Peter Suber.
..Science is fallible, but clearly that’s not what makes it special. Science is special because it’s self-correcting. It isn’t self-correcting because individual scientists acknowledge their mistakes, accept correction, and change their minds. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Science is self-correcting because scientists eventually correct the errors of other scientists, and find the evidence to persuade their colleagues to accept the correction, even if the new professional consensus takes more than a generation. In fact, it’s precisely because individuals find it difficult to correct themselves, or precisely because they benefit from the perspectives of others, that we should employ means of correction that harness public scrutiny and open access..

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