Since the dawn of modern science in the Renaissance, research has been conducted by the amateur. From Galileo looking up to the stars, to Leeuwenhoek grinding his microscopes, to Faraday tinkering with electricity, discoveries have been made by people driven by interest or curiosity about the world around them. However, with the rise of industrialization and universities within the past century or so, research has been increasingly segregated into ivory towers of research facilities.
We don’t think that that should be the case. Professional research is research driven by funding; research chasing grants and the support of those with the means to provide them. This inevitably introduces some form of bias to the research. Do we really need to look any further than the mess nutrition science has become with Big Sugar?
Research is more than trying to find something politically expedient or economically viable: it is the extension of mankind’s knowledge. X-Ray and machine learning’s progress from laboratory curiosity to becoming a big part of our modern world bears testament to this. While we are fortunate enough that these discoveries were made while scientists were researching other affairs, how many more have we missed because the idea occurred to someone unable to carry it out?
An amateur isn’t a beginner or incompetent. An amateur is simply not a professional – someone simply not doing it for the money but for some ulterior motive. Be it curiosity, passion, or some other motive, he is doing it because of some personal interest, divorced of the vested interest of the money.
We believe that deep down in every person’s heart is the seed of curiosity. Everyone has some questions about the world. It is the job of education to answer some of them. For those that cannot be answered though, do we expect people to content themselves with not knowing or empower them with the tools to go find it out for themselves? Amateur research, research driven by curiosity, is the future. And that’s why we want to start foundry collective.