1999 : WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INVENTION IN THE PAST TWO THOUSAND YEA

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Professor of Neurobiology and Psychiatry, UCSF; Author, Making Sense of People
Professor and director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California

The great invention of the modern era is the invention of organized science — scientific societies and journals that foster the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge based on evidence rather than on authority or revelation. Before the invention of these organizations the accumulation of scientific knowledge was slow, because there were no established venues for criticism and education — essential social interactions at the heart of science. Now that these organizations (in the developed world) have become very large (necessitating the proliferation of many subdivisions, to allow for personal interactions on a human scale) they facilitate the unprecedented opportunities for collective knowledge and self knowledge that so many of us enjoy.