Rectify biased interpretation of science history

Manchester, New Hampshire, USA.

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Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

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As members of the STEM Advocacy Institute, we find the typical Western view of science history distorted and incomplete and argue for more-balanced representation. Many non-Western scientists have made hugely important contributions to scientific knowledge, but their rich and inspiring stories garner little attention in the West.

For example, Hippocrates is widely considered to be the ‘father of medicine’ — even though the ancient Egyptians developed medicine as a profession 2,000 years earlier (see The first known physician in Egypt was a man named Imhotep, who was deified after his death for his medical achievements (see Many such examples exist, but they are not well-known (see, for instance, J. Al-Khalili Nature 518, 164–165; 2015; A. M. Celâl Şengör Nature 471, 162–163; 2011; J. Poskett Nature 550, 332; 2017).

This means that schoolchildren are inculcated with a history that excludes the diversity of ethnicities, beliefs and cultures that have contributed to today’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ignoring these reinforces stereotypes and the marginalization of certain groups, whereas balancing the narrative would positively influence those who are already disadvantaged in our classrooms.

Nature 560, 29 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05848-w
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