Is Open Science a Fundamental Aspect of Human Nature?

Is Open Science a Fundamental Aspect of Human Nature? 1024 512 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

Open science, a movement advocating for transparent and accessible scientific research, has gained momentum in recent years. It proposes that scientific knowledge should be freely available to everyone, without restrictions or barriers. This idea prompts us to question whether open science is an inherent characteristic of human nature, rooted in our instinctive curiosity and cooperative tendencies. This article explores the concept of open science and delves into the evolutionary and societal factors that suggest its alignment with fundamental human traits.

The Curious Nature of Humans

From the earliest days of human existence, curiosity has been a driving force behind our quest for knowledge. Our ancestors were curious about the natural world, leading them to explore, experiment, and make discoveries that helped shape our understanding of the environment. This innate curiosity is evident in the cave paintings of early humans, which depict animals, celestial events, and various elements of their surroundings. These ancient artworks serve as evidence of a primal desire to observe, understand, and share knowledge.

Sharing Knowledge for Survival

Throughout human history, sharing knowledge has played a crucial role in our survival and progress. In ancient hunter-gatherer societies, passing down information about edible plants, hunting techniques, and natural remedies was essential for the group’s well-being. This cooperative sharing of knowledge allowed communities to thrive and adapt to their environments.

Early forms of scientific inquiry were also deeply rooted in collaboration and open exchange. Ancient civilizations like the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese engaged in scientific pursuits, often sharing their findings with the broader intellectual community. These early scientists were motivated by a desire to contribute to collective understanding rather than personal gain.

The Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Science

The Enlightenment era, which spanned the late 17th to the 18th century, marked a significant turning point in the history of science. Philosophers and scientists of this period championed reason, empiricism, and the dissemination of knowledge. Figures like Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and Francis Bacon advocated for the open sharing of scientific findings, challenging the prevailing notions of secrecy and exclusivity.

The establishment of the Royal Society in 1660 in London is often considered a cornerstone of modern scientific inquiry. Its motto, “Nullius in verba” (Take nobody’s word for it), embodies the spirit of open science. The society promoted experimentation, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas, laying the foundation for the scientific method as we know it today.

Open Science in the Digital Age

In the 21st century, the digital revolution has catapulted open science to new heights. The internet has enabled researchers to share their work globally, transcending geographical and institutional boundaries. Open-access journals, preprint repositories, and online collaboration platforms have become essential tools for scientists seeking to disseminate their findings openly.

Moreover, citizen science projects have emerged, involving the general public in scientific research. This inclusive approach not only democratizes knowledge but also taps into the collective intelligence of a diverse range of individuals.


The concept of open science appears to be deeply ingrained in human nature, reflecting our curiosity, cooperative tendencies, and historical traditions of knowledge sharing. From our earliest ancestors to the present day, the pursuit of knowledge and the sharing of discoveries have been fundamental to our survival and progress as a species.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of the modern world, embracing open science not only aligns with our inherent human nature but also holds the potential to foster greater innovation, collaboration, and societal advancement. By championing transparency and accessibility in scientific research, we honor the legacy of our forebears who, through their curiosity and generosity, paved the way for the extraordinary scientific achievements of today.

Photo: School of Arts and Sciences

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