On the importance of citizen science

A common theme I hear in talks on personalized medicine, is that increased access to genomic data and medical literature are changing the relationship between doctors and patients. Patients are through being passive recipients of paternalistic health care. They are demanding to participate and be treated as partners with health care providers.

Citizen science can serve a similar role.

Just as personalized medicine is starting to make it possible for individuals to monitor and participate in their own personal health, citizen science is making it possible for people to participate and monitor the health of their communities.

With our environment endangered by growing concentrations of CO2, and global climate change happening faster than predicted, these efforts are timely and greatly needed. The best tool we have for fighting ignorance is to get citizens involved in science. I'm sure we'd have fewer people believing silly things on Fox news if they were doing experiments and looking at the world outside instead of listening to ideological nonsense on TV.

Communities don't have to be passive receptacles for pollution and waste. They don't have to sacrifice biodiversity for development or clean water and air for jobs. They can make a choice.

Making good environmental choices however, depends on information. You can't protect or monitor the environment without knowing what's in it. Citizen science empowers communities by making the scientific process transparent and allowing citizens to become involved.

Thank you all for posting an amazing collection of links to citizen science projects going on throughout the world. I never realized there were so many projects out there. It's encouraging to know there are so people out there who care about our world.

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I hope it is true that medical patients are participating more in their care and I certainly agree that citizen science needs to expand. This is one reason why all government funded research data should be easily available to all. With the amount of bandwidth currently available and the ubiquity of computers and open source software people should be analyzing data rather than believing everything they are told. Thus it is particularly unacceptable for CRU to not share their data.

Thanks for the post. This is great! I'm glad to see someone out there supporting the citizen science cause. It couldn't be a better time to students into the field to partake in data collection and observation of the natural world. Keep on writing about this!!! Thanks.

I think citizen science illustrates one of the aspects of science that I love the best. Science is empowering. I think that people can use science to know what's going on in their world and take ownership of their local environment.