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Honest Discussions- A Revival Movement

Author: Dr. Randen Patterson is an Award-winning Systems Biologist, who retired in 2014 at only 43 years old due to the decline of academic funding and the rise of polarizing politics in science literature, research, and scholastics. After a decade of personal research and reflection, Dr. Patterson’s new career is dedicated to restoring the public’s faith in the science community and basic science research, as well as pushing back on the censorship of scientific debate that currently plagues our society.

Within the current information era, scientific discourse should be experiencing a renaissance.  Instead, we appear to be entering a new dark age, where censorship rules and community perishes. The recent pandemic demonstrated to the scientific community and the public that there are severe consequences for challenging the main-stream narrative both professionally and socially, which ultimately led to a significant decrease in the public’s trust of science as a whole. Competition for resources also forces nearly all scientists to acquiesce to, if not subscribe to, the prevalent dogmatic theories in their area of interest. Failure to comply has the potential to impact research funding, study publishing, and employment, which leads to the most damaging type of censorship, self-censorship. It’s not crazy to suggest that if you question the validity of “The Big Bang Theory”, your chances of being a successful astrophysicist are significantly reduced. Top theories in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology are further entrenched in society as they are taught to children as “settled science”, although very little is truly settled as ideas and evidence challenging these theories appear almost daily.

The reduction of free speech in science has also led to the decline of the most important part of scholarly research, open debate. This is highlighted by the WHO Chief, Soumya Swaminathan, publicly admitting that lack of debate over COVID transmission led to many public health errors during the pandemic. These types of actions only further erode public trust. If the experts won’t debate, how are they to be trusted? Without debate, faulty ideas, models, and theories can find support through populism, political influence, and faith. This is contrary to the very foundations of scientific pursuits, which require rigorous experimental and philosophical evaluation that should stand up to public scrutiny.

The science community also suffers from its disconnection from the current media landscape and the public at large. In 2023, society expects direct contact through media. Hearing about science directly from the scientists actually doing the work has more impact now than ever. Yet, most science media still consists of lectures and articles that are impenetrable to the average person in society; however, this is changing. There are a growing number of programs and platforms that are providing valuable content for the general public and developing scientists. Even within these platforms, censorship still exists (e.g., banned Ted talks, YouTube, Facebook, the Twitter files, etc.). Further, most of the science media is populated by the relatively few scientists who actively cultivate a media presence (e.g., Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, etc.). Meanwhile, these media scientists are not the ones in the trenches doing the research. What is in short supply are uncensored platforms that bring a truly representative pool of active research scientists, across all career stages, directly to the people.

Honest Discussions is a platform designed with all these problems in mind . Long-form conversations have reappeared due to the popularity of podcasts, with a few being some of the most popular media sources on the planet. This has occurred, by and large, due to the public’s thirst for nuanced conversation, not sixty second polarizing sound bites. A long-form discussion also allows for the exploration of both prevailing and alternative theories in sufficient detail that all sides can be fairly represented. This allows the listener the ability to make their own decisions while simultaneously opening the door to new ideas, problems, and potential solutions to the models and theories being discussed.

One of my personal goals is to initiate a revival of collegiate scientific debates by hosting and mediating them. Having taken the path less traveled as a scientist myself, I have a unique background and skill set that allows me to speak with scientists from all disciplines and try to bring out their best. Debate allows different perspectives to be voiced, probed, and evaluated on an uncensored platform. Another goal is to provide the public with a window into all the aspects of who scientists really are, how we are motivated, and what the scientific experience is- with all its assets and flaws. I am also dedicated to making this platform a mechanism for crowdfunding. With a historically low percentage of grants being funded for academic science, in particular the basic sciences, new mechanisms must be created to move forward.

Click this link to support “the revival” on Honest Discussion, which will enable these visions to grow, mature, and evolve.

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