When science used to be simple

Analysis: Science used to be simpler

[Via Buried Treasure]

I guess most people have a feeling that life used to be simpler in the past. The other day it occurred to me that we researchers very often talk about how advanced our methods are, although simple methods are in many cases preferable.

So this morning I resorted to my usual strategy for analyzing such things, namely counting in Medline. More specifically I calculated for each year the percentage of publication titles that contain the words “simple” and “advanced”, respectively. In the plot below, the dots show the values for each year and the lines show five-year running averages thereof (click for PDF version):


As can be clearly seen, life as a researcher was indeed simpler in the 50s and 60s.


Scientific proof that things used to be simple. Interesting that the sharp increase in the use advanced happened in the late 70s. wonder why?

2 thoughts on “When science used to be simple

  1. Come on, Man! First: Define simple. Second: Beyond the basics, researchers start nit-picking and make things complicated in order to get a Ph.D

    1. It was simply a graph of the use simple or advanced in titles. For some reason, scientists wanted to portray the work as simple until the 70s. Then they wanted to make people think it was advanced, not simple. I wondered why?

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