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Science

The Map of Critical Thinking and Modern Science 150

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-would-take-awhile dept.
Jamie noticed an interesting map of critical thinking and science done in a sort of subway style. You can track Newton and Einstein and Tesla and so on. It's actually pretty interesting to navigate.
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The Map of Critical Thinking and Modern Science

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  • This map at first glance appears to be decidedly western individuals only.
    • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:05AM (#33426216)

      I zoomed in on a random portion of the map, and it lost a lot of it's charm when it listed Phil Plait, heading up 21st century Astronomy along the same line as Carl Sagan.

      I don't want to knock what Phil has done, and I DO read his BadAstronomy blog fairly regularly. However, I think that including him in this map is highly premature. He is well educated, and can put together a somewhat interesting article, but I'm thinking it's a bit more pop-celebrity and reaching to find a 'current' astronomer that put him on there.

      Not that in 15-20 years I would be surprised to see him on a later version of this map, but it just feels like a rush to make it more relevant. No offence Phil, if you read this, but I'm sure you can agree that there are likely a great number of more influential Astronomers who may better deserve the 'inheritance'.

      There will probably be a few other 'gripes', and if the creator of this map had ended it a little earlier we might have been able to avoid statements like mine. It becomes an easy debate topic like a top 100 list.

      Perhaps some metrics to show why the latest people were placed there?

      Back to reading Phil's posts on Fark...

      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:26AM (#33426540) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, I noticed that. And yet it is missing Gerard Kuiper. How many belts does Phil have named after him?

        • by Lije Baley (88936)

          But Kuiper said the moon was made of crunchy snow...

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Yeah, I noticed that. And yet it is missing Gerard Kuiper. How many belts does Phil have named after him?

          Back in your box. We've changed things before, remember pluto? Well that used to be a planet. Don't test our patience.

          The Plait belt has quite a ring to it.

      • Sagan's dead and Phil has launched a pilot for hopefully a new series on Discovery channel. Eventually someone's got to take up the torch Sagan left behind.

        • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @12:53PM (#33427650)

          Sagan's dead and Phil has launched a pilot for hopefully a new series on Discovery channel. Eventually someone's got to take up the torch Sagan left behind.

          My point is that it's on the same 'line' as Christian Huygens, Isaac Newton, Johanes Kepler, Edwin Hubble, Galileo Galilei, and Copernicus.

          The creator of this map has some serious 'scale' issues. Perhaps if he split the Astronomer line to cover 'Astronomy-cheerleader'/got-a-show-on-Discovery. And I'm not saying that isn't important, but it's far too pop-culture for me.

          If we are going to include people like that, then I'd like to see Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard) up on the list, because a hell of a lot more people can point to him as a science role model than Phil Plait.

          • well, given that the field of astronomy has largely exploded and we're talking about visible figures in the skepticism community today, yes, Phil counts.

            Although I'm wondering where the hell Donald Knuth, RMS, ESR, Linus Torvalds and Steve Wozniak are on the Blue line. :)

            Then again, this is about *rational* thinking, which kicks RMS and ESR out.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by ppanon (16583)
              RMS is rational. He just has a very different set of priorities from most of the rest of the world.
          • Objective scoring of importance can be problematic, although algorithms exist (for example, Google's PageRank for scoring webpages, automated methods of assigning importance to authors based on patterns of citation, or even Erds number ;-). In this case, though, incorrect scope is more important than scoring errors.

            The diagram's creator admits that he chose some merely popular individuals in addition to significant scientists, but let's suppose that we are trying to determine which events or persons ar
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Skjellifetti (561341)
        I hadn't realized the gravity of Newton's interest in Alchemy. Putting Thomas Edison on a branch of the Theoretical Physics and QM Line was enlightening. Also interesting that biology does not seem to have acquired any characteristics from Lamark. Jared Diamond's work has too many facets to be relegated to just the Evolutionary Biology line. And I thought the whole project kinda bombed after I noticed that they had left off Andrei Sakharov.

        I'll stop now.
      • by Bryansix (761547)
        Ya, seriously. What was Carl Sagan doing on there? Have you ever gone back and looked at his videos. The amount of wrong information is astounding and he lived in the last century!
      • Metric:

        "The map primarily includes modern scientists who have made significant advances to our understanding of the world, however I have also included many present day scientists who fuel a passion for, and advances in, science through communication and science popularisation"

    • by Shihar (153932) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:07AM (#33426256)

      True, but that in large part is because where you put the period at the end of this map has a massive influence on where you begin, especially philosophically. That isn't to suggest that there were not some parallels elsewhere in the world, but due to the great leaps the West made over the East from 16th century on up until the dawn of the 21st, those parallels became dead ends.

      China was ahead of the West for a very long time. Right up into and even during the early part of the colonial age China was pretty far ahead of the West in terms of technology and culture. If China had maintained that path we might be in exactly the same place we are today in terms of technology, but instead of being able to trace back philosophical lines from Europe, to Roman, to Greece, you might trace it back from Japan, to Korea, to China with a set of Eastern philosophers to match. Hell, if you were to simply draw the map in the 1500s of where the major technologies trace their schools of thought from you would have two maps, on Eastern and one Western, and the Eastern one would be further ahead.

      This isn't even to suggest that the West made its advancements in a vacuum. Lots of technology and thought crossed both ways across Eurasia, but when an idea travels a few thousand miles in the ancient world and suffers a dozen translations you pretty much lose all traceability. Hell, just jumping from an Islamic Empire to a Christian Empire is a pretty sure way to ensure that traceability is lost. It isn't like a Christian scholar in 1,200 AD influenced by an Islamic Arab scholar is going to cite his inspiration. The only reason why we remember those ancient Greek scholars at all is because the empires that came after worship the empires that came before, and were happy to cite them as influences.

      Starting the map in the 1500s and working up to today means it is going to be a Western map because that was the period of time when the West dominated world thinking. Draw this map from 2000 BC to 1500 AD, or from 600 AD to 1200 AD, or from many other two points and you would see totally different maps. Hell, I bet the map from 2000 AD to 2500 AD is going to be a wild one with lines crossing all over the world like never before.

    • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:47AM (#33426802)

      This map at first glance appears to be decidedly western individuals only.

      Well, perhaps you might list some important non-Western scientists from the last 500 years which the map covers who are missing from it, so that they might be added in?

      Besides, as a quick test, at least Jagadish Chandra Bose [wikipedia.org], Andrey Kolmogorov [wikipedia.org] and Min Chueh Chang [wikipedia.org] seem to have made it in.

    • by SQL Error (16383)

      Yeah, where are people like Satyendra Nath Bose (as in "Bose-Einstein condensate", Sin-Itiro Tomonaga (shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard Feynmann for QED), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (as in the Chandrasekhar limit) or Chen Ning Yang (Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on parity non-conservation)?

      Oh, wait...

    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @12:50PM (#33427620)

      This map at first glance appears to be decidedly western individuals only.

      Glance again. You'll see Bose and Yukawa, at least, and a few others as well.

      But I agree that the non-Westerners who invented calculus and laid down the foundations of physics, chemistry, natural history, evolutionary biology, relativity, cosmology and quantum mechanics do seem to be missing.

  • Great Bear (Score:5, Informative)

    by DIplomatic (1759914) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @10:47AM (#33425986) Journal
    Very similar to "The Great Bear" [google.com] by Simon Patterson
  • Destination (Score:3, Funny)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @10:51AM (#33426040) Journal

    Do all destinations in this map equal 42?

  • I realize this map is intended to be pretty much science-only, but if that's the case, can you please leave off the "reason and critical thinking" part? It kind of raises my hackles a bit when a document claims to list prominent personalities in the history of critical thought and leaves off such basic people as, I don't know, Plato and Aristotle. If you plot Western thought on a Tube map they're Paddington Station. I could go on with a pretty massive list of non-empirical non-mathematicians, but let's jus
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ejWasTaken (64290)

      ObQuote: "Ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?...Morons."

    • Re:Omissions? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:03AM (#33426192) Homepage Journal

      It kind of raises my hackles a bit when a document claims to list prominent personalities in the history of critical thought and leaves off such basic people as, I don't know, Plato and Aristotle.

      If you actually scan the map you'll see that it is only since the 15th century and anyone prior to that is left off. If you want to talk about omissions then try scanning along the "mathematics and computing" line, which is far more sparse than it should be. Where is Bertrand Russell, who ought to be straddling a couple of lines at least? Where are many of the mid to late 20th century mathematicians (are Grothendieck, Conway, and Wiles really all you can manage? How about Deligne, Mac Lane, Quillen, Tate, Perelman, thew list goes on...).

      • They were making room for Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Frank Drake, Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, Alexander Graham Bell...
      • Also, the lack of two of my favorites Francis Bacon [wikipedia.org] and Karl Popper [wikipedia.org], two of the most influential minds in separating the empirical sciences from metaphysics and pseudo-sciences.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Stephen Hawking really has the most interesting position on this map, because besides his contributions to 20th century physics, he also has (according to the map) built a time machine and contributed to 18th century astronomy. Really remarkable achievement there.

        Also, I'm surprised that Rene Descartes doesn't get anything for his work in philosophy, which was really his primary focus. The mathematics was just a fun side project.

      • by Badge 17 (613974)
        There are also some particularly strange choices for the overlaps of mathematics and physics. Einstein, for instance, wasn't pioneering new mathematical methods for the most part, but links the math and physics lines. Then Ed Witten, the only physicist ever to win a Fields Medal, isn't connected to the math line.

        Also a problem: where's Ken Wilson in modern physics? Renormalization group ended up simultaneously revolutionizing particle physics and condensed matter physics - I can't think of a comparabl
        • by Coryoth (254751)

          There are also some particularly strange choices for the overlaps of mathematics and physics. Einstein, for instance, wasn't pioneering new mathematical methods for the most part, but links the math and physics lines. Then Ed Witten, the only physicist ever to win a Fields Medal, isn't connected to the math line.

          Very true, Einstein leaned heavily on Hilbert top produce any new mathematics required to support his ideas. And yes, Witten is oddly lacking in the extra connection. I also note that Leibniz, who was one of the last true polymaths, is only attached to a single line, despite being a world renowned figure in philosophy, mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology is his day.

    • by Shihar (153932)

      It is a map of modern science. Do you know what a philosophy map that starts with Plato and Aristotle is? Neither modern, nor science. It is like complaining that a lineage map of Linux OS's doesn't include the complete history of agriculture.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        That's not really fair. Philosophy is an important part of science, which is why there's "philosophy of science" classes taught in Philosophy departments at universities, teaching about the works of Karl Popper and others.

        A better analogy for you is: "It is like complaining that a lineage map of Linux OSes doesn't include the complete history of the computer, going back to the ENIAC and the Analytical Machine."

  • by Kristian T. (3958)

    Women always seem to say they can do anything as well as the men - so I guess women always have, and still are, choosing to not be good at science. What troubles me the most, is that even in the current generation, where the girls are fare much better in our school systems - none of that intellectual potential goes into moving the frontiers of the hard sciences.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      One theory is that they lack role models.
      GO MARIE CURIE !
      Also this kind of mindset may not help : http://xkcd.com/385/ [xkcd.com]
    • by thms (1339227)
      Women staying out of the engineering and "hard" sciences is mostly a phenomenon of the western world (in Cold War terms). In eastern Europe and Russia these subjects are much closer to parity, IIRC the same hold true for China. Even in Iran (!) women don't share the western prejudices against CS, Math etc.

      However, once in these fields, there is the entirely different issue of the glass ceiling, i.e. not getting promoted beyond a certain level.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        It's true for India too. Lots of female engineers there.

        However, it's not just women here in the West that avoid engineering and hard sciences, men avoid them too. Most of the classes are filled with foreign nationals, who'll be going back home after they finish. As a society, we're basically throwing in the towel on these things, partly because we're lazy, and partly because the careers really suck. For instance, as an engineer you probably will only be able to work until you're about 40, after which y

    • by theghost (156240) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:30AM (#33426608)

      There's still a lot of cultural pressure telling women (everyone really) that the important things in life are popularity, beauty, love, and child-rearing.

      It's kind of a wonder that anyone at all goes into science these days. Maybe they should make a "Real Physicists of MIT" show.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shiftless (410350)

        There's still a lot of cultural pressure telling women (everyone really) that the important things in life are popularity, beauty, love, and child-rearing

        Their culture isn't telling them that--it's their genes.

        Of course women can do well in science, it's just that most women are not interested in a scientific career, regardless of culture.

        • To be fair, it's not an exclusive dichotomy, quite the opposite, it is both societal pressure and genetic disposition.
        • by theghost (156240)

          No. We're not talking about genetic drives. The desires to join a community, attract a mate and produce offspring are not driving people away from science. They are completely compatible with a career in science. The fact that you don't seem to recognize that is just indicative of your own problematic attitude.

          It's the cultural pressures which elevate those things to paramount importance such that people spend all their time pursuing them instead of other things. People (not just women) are not interested i

    • In the past, women were actively discouraged from entering sciences by the male dominated establishments. What women did enter science were often not credited with their work. Hell, half the female scientists in history are only well known because their research partner was their husband, the only person willing to give them equal credit for the work and even when they do research and even then it wasn't a sure thing. People still argue over how much influence Einstein's first wife had on his work.

      And I

      • by ultranova (717540)

        People still argue over how much influence Einstein's first wife had on his work.

        Who is arguing it? Have they showed any evidence that she had significant - or any - influence?

    • I would like to note that Wikipedia lists more women scientists [wikipedia.org] than it does all scientists from China [wikipedia.org].

      Just because you haven't heard of somebody doesn't mean that person doesn't exist.
    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @12:54PM (#33427674)

      none of that intellectual potential goes into moving the frontiers of the hard sciences

      Science and engineering are both pretty sucky careers, and like men have been brought up in an environment where male self-sacrifice is held up as an ideal and "Men Last!" is a highly admired sentiment. So it only makes sense that they would be dominated by men, in the same way that jobs that kill people are dominated by men.

      Women are more than capable of doing these things, they just haven't been indoctrinated with the irrational willingness to sacrifice themselves that men have.

    • I wish I had mod points right now. I believe your comment to be idiotic and I wish I could mod it down as overrated (even at 0) rather than merely commenting on it. I'm not certain that this exercise (my commenting) isn't a complete waste of time and energy with respect to influencing your thinking, but here's why I think your remarks are so stupid: there are many more possible reasons than merely "choosing to not be good at science" for women not to appear prominently in the annals of scientific history. H
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      There's two reasons for this:

      1) Before the mid/late 20th century, society mostly prevented women from doing anything substantial in science, or really having any kind of career other than "housewife" or "prostitute" (with a few exceptions like nurse and schoolteacher).

      2) These days, girls don't go into science careers because they're more well-rounded than boys, and think of the whole picture, and realize that science as a career sucks in Western countries, so they do something else. I believe we've had mu

  • Not the proper graphics metaphor. Plus its too convoluted to fit it on a page.
  • Obvious (Score:4, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:16AM (#33426384) Homepage Journal
    This map have a clear message for all humanity: You need a bigger screen.
    • by ultranova (717540)

      Nah, the real message is: "SVG, learn to love it."

      Seriously, what kind of moron uses a bitmap for something like this?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Modern science and critical thinking are OPPOSITES!

  • I don't see Alonzo Church or Stephen Kleene. Or Noam Chomsky, for that matter.
  • Crispian Jago is also the creator of the awesome "Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense" [redbubble.com] T-Shirt that I was wearing when a nice husband and wife pair of Baptists stopped by to invite me to their church. Uncomfortable!

  • I got the map, but it looked to be getting slashdotted when I did (at around 30 comments in), and no wonder! A 2882.62 KB, 4450px × 2737px image on the front page of /.? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

  • Critical thinking and science is about ideas, not people. I do not care for the name of an inventor or of a discoverer, I care about what they actually did. Hubble is the name of an effect, not of an astronomer.

    I would prefer a tech-tree, a la Civilization, with more details and updated to the latest discovery than a list of people the author of the map felt were important.
    • I've come across opinions like yours before (which you don't explicitly state but allude to the idea that if guy X didn't discover a thing then guy Y would, therefore only the thing discovered is important), and I have one important example that effectively refutes it: the wheel. Even after more than five thousand years of use in the Eastern Hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere had no wheels until the Europeans arrived. We don't know who came up with the wheel, but if an entire hemisphere could miss that oppo
      • by TheLink (130905)

        They did have wheels before the Europeans arrived: http://www.mcguinnessonline.com/wheel/ [mcguinnessonline.com]

        • Oh, I'm sorry, I figured that a use limited completely to toys was functionally irrelevant. What you're saying is equivalent to showing that pre-Columbian civilizations had toy birds with wings and therefore they invented the airplane. Bollocks. In fact it only indicts them further that nobody in those cultures was smart enough to figure out 'well, what if we made these bigger?'
          • by TheLink (130905)
            > In fact it only indicts them further that nobody in those cultures was smart enough to figure out 'well, what if we made these bigger?'

            The article I linked to has some theories on why they didn't do it, and I doubt it's because they weren't smart enough to think "what if we made these bigger".
      • by stdarg (456557)

        The wheel is an interesting example. I didn't know it wasn't around in the New World. Plenty of other foundational technologies/ideas were independently developed though, like positional number systems, written language, boats, etc. Have you thought of other things besides the wheel to refute op's argument?

        • Bronze was also virtually unknown in the Western Hemisphere. There is some evidence that the Moche culture and their successors the Inca (through the Wari/Huari and Killke) did some small-scale smelting, and even if this is true it puts them more than 4000 years behind the Eastern Hemisphere metallurgically speaking. (And in the 1000 years between the possible discovery and use of bronze and Columbian contact the Moche/Inca did very little with it.) As such there were almost no durable metallic objects in t
      • I thought much the same thing the GP did. But we love to think we're special, love stories about ourselves. It's an extension of flattery, and it's all over the place in SF. When it's not all about a special person who could be me, it's all about my society, or people, species, whatever. Brin's Uplift stories have us humans as these unpredictable, wild, "wolfing" intelligent life forms that upset the stodgy and stale interstellar civilization we meet. In Star Trek, the Borg should have easily defeated

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        That's not my opinion. My opinion is that Gallileo could have been named Glenn Beck, the name is not important. I want to know what he did. I do believe that without some people, some ideas would have taken a lot more time to appear. But when Newton's said he was standing on the shoulders of giants, he was referring to their works and ideas.

        When I look at a castle, I want to see the stones, not the masons' names.
  • I can't find Ziggy and his, You Are Here, sign.

  • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:55AM (#33426894) Journal

    Any map that puts Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox at antipodes is bollocks.

    Astronomy and physics are more intimately related than most sciences, and should come out at almost the same point, not carry unsuspecting travellers to opposite ends of the map.

    Looking at the rest of it, graphically it's confusing and randomly connected rather than insightfully linked.

    Someone had a spreadsheet full of names in columns by college major and sorted by date, and they hung it on a colorful template. Which didn't fit so they wrapped the data around in a spiral, just like a ...subway system....?

    Weren't we just discussing the fact that PowerPoint makes you stupid [slashdot.org]?

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @02:45PM (#33429040) Homepage
    Some people are listed on multiple tracks. So for example Emmy Noether is listed for both math and physics. But other decisions seem questionable. For example, I'm not at all convinced that Einstein should be listed for both math and physics rather than just physics. Similarly Sheldon Glashow is listed as both math and physics whereas I'd put him down almost completely as physics. But Riemann only gets math and no physics? What's up with that? And there are also some odd choices to leave out. For example, G.H. Hardy is not included at all (presumably would go in both the math and natural history lines). There are also a lot of gaps in the math line in the last few years. The different lines seem to also end in slightly different times. The physics end has a fair number of fairly young physicists but the math end lacks Terry Tao for example (in fact the math line seems to be very sparse over the last few years). I'd be very curious as to how they made their various decisions for whom to include or not.
  • Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal were both also philosophers in addition to being mathmaticians. I don't know why the paths diverge there and do not include them in both.

Pohl's law: Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere, will not hate it.

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