Why does personal science matter? One reason, as I’ve said many times, is that personal scientists (who do science to help themselves) are free to speak the truth. Sometimes professional scientists (for whom science is a job) are not.
The history of human chromosome number is a good example. Starting in the 1920s, humans were said to have 48 chromosomes. In fact, the correct number is 46. From the soon-to-be-published book The Truth in Small Doses by Clifton Leaf (copy sent me by publisher), which is about cancer research, I learned that in 1955 two Swedish scientists, Tjio and Levan, established the correct number. After their article appeared,
Several researchers wrote [them] to confess that they, too, had spied only forty-six chromosomes but had thrown out the results because they were in conflict with established knowledge.
“In conflict with established knowledge” was euphemism for we were worried what would happen to us.
The Truth in Small Doses begins with this story. Leaf’s point is that cancer researchers have a similar problem: They too cannot tell the truth, which is that progress against cancer has been poor, in spite of billions of dollars spent on research.