First, came the citizen-journalists – the bloggers in their pajamas whose reporting overturned Walter Cronkite’s old chair and dumped out Dan Rather.
Then came the citizen-politicos – the self-organizing crusaders who organized largely online but made a difference in the real world, giving alternating advantages to the left in 2006 and 2008 and the right in 2010.
And now come… the citizen scientists. An English gas worker has discovered four new planets by analyzing public data at his home computer. No telescope, no university observatory, no office – just a proficiency for math and the love of the game. It’s legit, too, as the University of California has given the discovery a seal of approval.
This may explain why people have been slow to support environmental regulations with drastic economic impacts. The previous argument – “Trust us! We’re SCIENTISTS!” – can’t carry weight.