Our project began with the idea that the way science is communicated affects the way science is done.
The team that took up the challenge to make this idea a reality is composed by graduate students (master and PhD) of different areas of specialisation: History, Philosophy, Neuroscience and Psychology. Here you can read about our background, motivations, and organisational structure.
Martijn van der Meer, Project Leader
Being a historian, I want to contribute in a constructive way to scientific endeavor. Historical research showed that science is situated in a social and cultural context, making humanities scholars reflect on the practical side of doing science. Those reflections show – in contrast to a public image of intellectual authority and big discoveries – that ‘failure’ appears to be a substantial and productive part of research. By idealistically believing in bridging both the gaps between what is published and what is (being) researched, and the sciences and the humanities, I’m ready to make a change!
Stefan Gaillard, Treasurer
The scientific enterprise, economics, politics, history, technology, and philosophy. They all have one thing in common: human action, or praxeology. Because of my diverse formal training and broad interests, I can contribute to many diverse fields of Wissenschaft and in turn apply that knowledge to practical problems on the free market.
My main objective is enhancing negative freedom all around the world. Based on the action ontology of Francis Heylighen, I advocate libertarian paternalism and e-government as a transitional model towards true individual freedom. Open science has a huge role to play in bringing knowledge closer to the public and empowering citizens. All my work and research contributes to my ideal of an open society.
I am currently a student of History and Philosophy of Science, while also working for a blockchain peer-review distribution platform and volunteering as board member of the Dutch Libertarian Party. In the summer of 2018, I started a free market innovation think tank. All activities related to the Journal of Trial and Error are independent of my political activities.
Max Bautista Perpinyà, Secretary
I have an interest in the brain, the mind, culture, and the conceptualization of the interactions between those three. I welcome bridging positions between naïve reductionism and social constructivists models of human thought, emotion and behaviour. I hope these buzzwords create an image of what my educational and intellectual motivations are.
More explicitly, I have a background in the Life Sciences (B.Sc at Maastricht University), Neuroscience (M.Sc at the Université de Strasbourg), and currently pursuing a Master in History and Philosophy of Science at Utrecht University. In constructing an even more explicit picture of my influences, I would point to the biocultural model of the brain of Jean-Pierre Changeux, the model of informed materialism of Kathinka Evers, the Ways of Seeing of John Berger, the ecological photography of Susan Sontag, the historical individuality of biological species of David Hull, and the intellectual patriotism of Santiago Ramón y Cajal.
Maura Burke, Project Management
As an interdisciplinary researcher primarily concerned with the conceptual foundations of theoretical biology and theoretical physics, I am required to critically assess that which is purportedly fundamental. While the scientific enterprise certainly has enjoyed immense success, I cannot help but wonder if our received manner of evaluating and publishing results serves not to aid, but to encumber meaningful development. I maintain that “negative results” represent a previously underappreciated wealth of relevant knowledge, with consequential conversations regarding methodological and conceptual practices constituting their core. It is my hope that through the Journal of Trial and Error I can work to elucidate the lacunas left in the wake of conventional publishing traditions while maintaining a commitment to transparency and forthright discourse.
Nayra Hammann, Marketing
Because I come from a background in History of Technology, it feels natural for me to reflect about the material side of science. The distinction between mind and matter à la Descartes denies a crucial aspect of being human. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, we need (material) things because they help us to constitute our self. The human owner (or spectator) gives meanings to the things that change with time, i.e. things are historical contingent. Nevertheless, the things also exist apart from us, their physicality are made to outlast our fragile corporeality. They have an “Eigensinn”: a meaning of their own, that is out of our reach. Since the ‘practical’ and ‘material turn’, reflections about materiality entered the field of History of Science. Optical instruments, technological devices, computational simulations… they all play a role in the process of doing science, they interact with the scientists and they render the scientists’ reality while partaking.
I prefer doing research on the historical aspects of science examining its tangible and visual forms. I like it when the outset, but also the final output of my work is something I can lay my hands on. For example a virtual and eventually printed Journal of Trial and Error.
Jobke Visser, Head of Legal Domain
I am fairly certain that I am the Benjamin of the group, as we would say in Dutch, being born in 1998. My academic interests range from political philosophy and ethics, my personal specialization, to psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind, to international relations and security studies. I have a background in the social sciences as well as philosophy at Utrecht University and I firmly believe no science can develop on its own, without mingling with other disciplines.
The Journal of Trial and Error embodies this perfectly: it is the place where the humanities mix with natural sciences, social sciences, and life sciences to create a unified whole and a better science.
Davide Cavalieri, Neuroscience Editor-in-Chief
Although advances in scientific research depend on continuous challenging of what is currently known, the social, ethical and ultimately, political framework embedding academia is rarely called into question among researchers.
I am confident that by rethinking the process of knowledge dissemination, this will evolve to be more open, transparent and accessible. The job is hard, most certainly, but thrilling! I joined the Journal of Trial and Error as a science insider (at present I am a neuroscience PhD student) with these convictions, as well as my passion for mind, nature and sound.
Sean Devine, Psychology Editor-in-Chief
Progress has always been achieved by probing well-entrenched and well-founded forms of life with unpopular and unfounded values. This is how man gradually freed himself from fear and from the tyranny of unexamined systems.
As a Master’s student in cognitive science, I encounter failure on a daily basis. In fact, failure is an essential characteristic of every research project; without it, we do not know where we’ve been and thus cannot know where we’re going.
Unfortunately, many researchers are judged not on their ability to produce good, honest, science, but on their ability to find statistically significant, ‘publishable” results. This produces the same effect in nearly every Psychology Department I’ve visited: a palpable fear of failure.
I joined the Journal of Trial and Error to help counteract this environment of fear and contribute to a healthier scientific climate for new researchers (including myself). My own research interests include moral decision-making, computational modeling, and lifespan development.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.