Episode #11 – Sabina Leonelli on whether Big Data will revolutionise science

sabina-leonelli-225x300In this episode I talk to Sabina Leonelli. Sabina is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Exeter. She is as the Co-Director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences (Egenis), where she leads the Data Studies research strand. Her research focuses primarily on the philosophy of science and in particular on the philosophy of data intensive science. Her work is currently supported by the ERC Starting Grant DATA_SCIENCE. I talk to Sabina about the impact of big data on the scientific method and how large databases get constructed and used in scientific inquiry.

You can listen below. You can also download here, or subscribe via Stitcher and iTunes (just click add to iTunes).

Show Notes

  • 0:00 – 1:40 – Introduction
  • 1:40 – 10:19 – How the scientific method is traditionally conceived and how data is relevant to the method as traditionally conceived.
  • 10:19 – 13:40 – Big Data in science
  • 13:40 – 18:30 – Will Big Data revolutionise scientific inquiry? Three key arguments
  • 18:30 – 24:13 – Criticisms of these three arguments
  • 24:13 – 29:20 – How model organism databases get constructed in the biosciences
  • 29:20 – 36:30 – Data journeys in science (Step 1): Decontextualisation
  • 36:30 – 41:20 – Data journeys in science (Step 2): Recontextualisation
  • 41.20 – 47:15 – Opacity and bias in databases
  • 51:55 – 57:00 – Data journeys in science (Step 3): Usage
  • 57:00 – 1:00:30 – The Replicability Crisis and Open Data
  • 1:00:30 – End – Transparency and legitimacy and dealing with different datasets


Relevant Links

  • ‘What difference does quantity make? On the Epistemology of Big Data in Biology’ by Sabina Leonelli

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