Antedisciplinary Science

  • The idea of cross disciplinary teams is depressing and not how new science gets done.
  • New fields are created by interdisciplinary people
  • Multidisciplinary teams actually reenforce the divisions between disciplines
  • Interdisciplinary people tend to be driven there out of necessity - learning new tools to attack problems
    • Example Max Delbrük (a former physicist) studying phage replication because he was interested in the molecular basis of heredity.
  • Titles need to be abandoned in the move to a new discipline
  • New fields are created by people who are misfits and revolutionaries in their own fields
    • “molecular biology is the practice of biochemistry without a license.”
      Francis Crick explained, ‘‘I myself was forced to call myself a molecular biologist because when inquiring clergymen asked me what I did, I got tired of explaining that I was a mixture of crystallographer, bio- physicist, biochemist, and geneticist, an explanation which in any case they found too hard to grasp’’ [4].
  • People should not be held up based on credentials
    • Example - you shouldn’t require a proposal that requires high performance computing to have a computer scientist - just check whether someone can use a supercomputer
  • Antedisciplinary science is the science that precedes the organization before the law arrives
  • Most antedisciplinarians are also anti-disciplinarian
  • There’s an analogy between the Human Genome Project and Bletchley Park cracking the enigma code. But then that was led by Alan Turing and von Neumann.
  • New ideas need to come from a single mind.


  • How do you check whether someone can do the thing without credentials when it’s hard to know before they do the thing


    “Cross disciplinary teams” is a consultant word


    4 Crick FHC (1965) Recent research in molecular biology: Introduction. Br Med Bull 21: 183–186.
  • Scientific Freedom - The Elixir of Civilization
  • Donald Braben Podcast 3 Nov 2020



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