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What is the “best science”?

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You will hear us use the term the “best science” or we seek to maintain the “purity of science”.

To adequately capture what we, as an organisation, mean when using these terms, we’ve asked a few of our leaders and experts to share their thoughts with you.

Adam Pieczonka, Chair


Adam Pieczonka

The “best science” is what results from a transparent, data-driven process with a large, multidisciplinary sample of reviewers.  The way I think about it is that a research proposal is part “science” and part “scientist.”

By stripping out the scientist, we’re left with the science and that’s what reviewers should be ranking.  We are referring to the outcome of a rigorous scientific process rather than the outcome alone.

Science is “accurate” when it’s irrefutable based on FIRST PRINCIPLES and whereby the hypothesis cannot be rejected.

The RFA we publicise specifically focuses on causes and cures, and our internal debate and selection process encourages risk backed by first principles.

You cannot have a reward without risk, this is basic investing. Success in scientific funding comes from separating cause from correlation.

Our four core “values” uphold these beliefs: first principles reasoning, truth above ego, diversity of opinion, and long-term vision.

Our Scientific Council joined 1907 – an organisation with relatively no money or prestige – because the approach of separating correlation from causation resonated with them.

I’m not a scientist but I’m an investor. And this is a conversation that should be based in logic, data, and focused on results.

Anil Seth, Scientific Advisory Board Member

Anil Seth

Science is at the heart of our ability to understand the world and the heart of our ability to make the world a better place.

There is no single definition of the “best” science. Good science enlightens us and fills us with awe; it also helps us develop new technologies, new medicines, and new societies.

Crucially, good science is also solid science. It should be reliable, repeatable, and rigorous.

There’s a lot of bad science, or pseudo-science out there – quick-fix “solutions” that trade on peoples’ desperation for a cure, or their desire to get ahead in their careers.

For this reason, good science is often slow science.

A single experiment rarely changes the world. Creative curiosity is critical to good science. When imagination meets insight meets experimental test – that’s when good science happens.

Science is above all a method, not a collection of facts. It’s the best means we have of amplifying the human mind.

For me, the best science helps us explain something previously mysterious (why does this happen?), predict what will happen (under what conditions will this happen?), and control that thing (if I do this, then this will or will not happen).

Finally, the best science is also open and accessible.

Data, methods, and results should be openly shared – and should be explained as much as possible in terms that everyone can understand.  When it comes to science and its potential to change the world, we’re all in this together.

Dr. Steve Ramirez, Scientific Advisory Board Member

Steve Ramirez

To me, the “best science” is work that can be accessed openly and understood by everyone.

Science is purest when it’s free of dogma and open to surprises — when we’re embarking on a scientific endeavor to make an unknown known and thereby push the boundary of understanding.

A piece of humility that I personally lean into is that we don’t have the universe figured out and we don’t have the brain figured out, but we sure know a lot about both — enough to make testable predictions about how things should fly or how medicine should alleviate or how minds should soak up information.

It’s important to me that science here is communicated effectively (i.e. assume your audience knows nothing but is capable of understanding everything) so as to build a more scientifically literate public who can make well-informed decisions to enable their well-being.

In that way, the self-correcting nature of science is not a limitation or a weakness but rather the strongest and purest form of unbiased discovery we have, and that’s a thing to celebrate!

Dr. Matthew Burke, Scientific Advisory Board Member

Matthew Burke

The best science is original, innovative, not reliant on shaky assumptions, and free from external pressures/bias.

It should consolidate a line of inquiry and push its field forward.

While this is just one pillar in the foundation for important scientific advancement, it is what I think 1907 Foundation is striving to capture and a reason I am drawn to their mission.

1907 Foundation is a public charity organisation committed to solving the global mental health crisis.

The organisation funds innovations across the scientific and technological spaces to get us one step closer to understanding mental health and thereby being able to solve mental health.

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  1. Pingback: Blind reviews in mental illness research: Why they matter

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