The Rise and Fall of Science

Ideas and Data

In this post, I’ll argue that scientific progress has significantly slowed over the last century, both at a per-scientist and absolute level, and then offer some speculative hypotheses about why this might have occurred.

On Measuring Scientific Progress

To begin with, it is necessary to make clear how we go about measuring scientific progress. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of quantitatively measuring this construct.

First, there is the subjective approach. This approach measures scientific progress during a time period by counting up the number of important events which occurred during that period or the number of important people who lived and made achievements during the period. What events and which people are important is determined by relevant experts.

This expert opinion can be measured in a variety of ways. For instance, you can ask experts to rate a list of potentially significant figures or events, you can analyze the frequency…

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