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Forget genius. Science is the product of less-than-brilliant minds

Forget genius. Science is the product of less-than-brilliant minds

We scientists tend to tell our story via breakthroughs — paradigm shifts that shake the foundations of knowledge and remake everyone’s understanding of how the world works. It’s a tale of high-flying, singular brilliance, of Einsteins and Darwins, of pure genius.

Such a narrative of exceptionalism isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s wrong enough to help skew the way society thinks about science and to sow doubt about its findings. It puts us and our work too far out of the reach of too many people, and earns us epithets like “elitist” and “arrogant.”

The truth about science is much more prosaic. Detailed case studies on the history of chemistry and physics...

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