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The rise of citizen science: Mike Adams reveals why private citizens produce more honest science than governments or corporations

Citizen science

(NaturalNews) You don't have to be an academic to be a scientist. Citizen science is growing globally. Communities with an amateur interest in science have helped classify galaxies, detect signs of disease, and unearth toxic metals in our food. But why is citizen science on the rise? To answer that question, no single answer will suffice.

Although there is no definitive term to describe "citizen science," simply put, citizen science includes a vast range of projects involving volunteer participation. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, citizen science is "a project in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions."

How citizen scientists first got their wings

Citizen scientists tend to lack the credentials of a university professor, but that doesn't mean becoming a citizen scientist is easy. "To be a citizen scientist, a person must possess an extraordinary ability to learn analytical techniques while possessing a solid foundation in physics, chemistry and mathematics," said Mike Adams, a pioneering citizen scientist who runs his own forensic food lab. "The search for scientific truth as an independent scientist is by no means an easy path, but it is an infinitely honorable and fulfilling one nonetheless."

Although citizen science has grown in popularity in recent years, it isn't exactly new. One of the first citizen science projects involved bird watchers with the National Audubon Society. Members documented the date, time, location, environmental conditions and nesting behaviors of birds. The data collected by citizen scientists was essential in determining if a species of bird was common in a designated area, as well as if there were changes in home range or a shift in bird population.

Since the early days of bird watching, citizen science has made rapid progress. In 2015, professional citizen science organizations were created in Australia, Europe and the United States. That same year, the first Citizen Science Association Conference was held, with another scheduled for February 2017. Furthermore, in the United States, the Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act of 2015 was proposed to encourage federal agencies to use citizen scientists.

Holding government agencies accountable with citizen science

Government agencies need to be held accountable by citizen scientists more so than ever before, especially the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "As science is the search for truth, only citizen scientists who are free from the corruption and financial influence of unethical corporations have the unique qualifications to pursue that search for truth without being compromised," explained Adams.

This sentiment is particularly true with respect to the EPA's handling of the Animas River. In August 2015, EPA contractors accidentally breached a dam, which flooded the Animas River with deadly toxins. The contaminants spread all the way to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

The EPA tried to cover up the spill, hoping that no one would notice that the river's water had taken on a mustard orange color from the toxic slew. Once the incident became manifestly apparent, the EPA intentionally underestimated the severity of the disaster. In particular, the EPA was forced to acknowledge that 3 million gallons of noxious sludge had been released into the river, which was three times greater than the initial estimates the agency provided.

It is precisely because of the chicanery tactics of the EPA and other government agencies that citizen scientists are most needed. The EPA knew that the water was contaminated, but refused to tell the public. Once the public knew, the agency fudged the numbers. If the actions of the EPA were made by an oil company, environmental activists would demand the imprisonment of the institution's CEO. Since the EPA is a government funded agency, however, a blind eye is cast at these lies and cover-ups.

Citizens with the scientific training and means can no longer passively watch as the EPA allows the children of America to be poisoned. Fortunately, this is becoming easier in wake of the cyber era. The internet has breathed new life into the citizen science community. Now, anyone with a library card and internet access has the world's best education at their fingertips. Alternative media outlets like Natural News have lifted the public's health consciousness to new heights. People want to know what goes into their food and how it is made, which requires independent citizen scientists.

The future of citizen science

The future of citizen science is bright. As technologies develop and the internet becomes more accessible, citizen scientists will be able to participate in a broader range of projects. Based on current trends, an unprecedented number of articles published in 2016 will have to acknowledge the pivotal role citizen scientists played in conducting that research.

The most common field of study that citizen scientists contribute to is biology. Approximately 72 percent of all articles which citizen scientists contribute to fall within the realm of biology. Citizen science articles related to biology are being published at a faster clip than any other scientific discipline.

Critics of citizen science insist that real science cannot be conducted outside of a university. Fortunately, science is universal, meaning no one has a monopoly on its truth. "The work of citizen scientists like myself can be replicated and confirmed by any other competent laboratory in the world, if only they had any interest in doing so," Adams insists. The scientific methods and instrumentation used in Adams' lab pump out a steady stream of work that meets and beats university standards. Refusing to acknowledge scientific work just because it falls outside the towers of academia isn't just arrogant; it's anti-intellectual.

Socrates said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." For centuries, however, the examined life was a luxury reserved for the peaks of society. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, the peaks of society have come crumbling down. Citizen scientists aren't just part of the scientific community; they hold the community accountable for bias and errors. And when you think about it, isn't that what science has always been about?

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