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The Royal Society and the Invention of Modern Science

I’ve always assumed that much of the western scientific tradition is a series of That’ll-Do measures made by imperfect humans in imperfect circumstances. This monograph showed me just how imperfect were both the circumstances (the English civil war) and the humans (naive, vain, incestuous, sometimes all at once). And just how much like the present times was the whole scientific endeavor: even back then, with so much yet to be discovered, most published papers were trivialities, most scientists (and “scientists”) cared for status more than truth, and most research (and “research”) was left unheard and unread.

It’s not a mystery then why we have such a hard time changing the ways of the ancients when those ways were built out of sheep’s blood and luminescent meat. But then I realized: we don’t get the science we need, we get one that we deserve, and we’ve been deserving the same kind of science for centuries now.

Written by Adrian Tinniswood, 2019

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