It is hard to say that the “science has slowed down”, but given the volume of papers, it doesn’t seem so. Perhaps it has been duplicated, or many scientists are merely replicating the process. I haven’t linked to the actual article (frankly, I am only interested in the conclusion), but has an import for cancer. We don’t see the breakthroughs which are expected otherwise (nope, CAR-T Cell isn’t really a breakthrough for solid tumours). Likewise, the multiple iterations of radiation delivery are mere “refinements” of what has been tried in the past.
Mostly we think scientific progress is indeed slowing down, and this is supported by a wide variety of metrics, surveyed in the paper. The gleam of optimism comes from this:
And to the extent that progress in science has not been slowing down, which is indeed the case under some of our metrics, that may give us new insight into where the strengths of modern and contemporary science truly lie. For instance, our analysis stresses the distinction between per capita progress and progress in the aggregate. As we will see later, a wide variety of “per capita” measures do indeed suggest that various metrics for growth, progress and productivity are slowing down. On the other side of that coin, a no less strong variety of metrics show that measures of total, aggregate progress are usually doing quite well. So the final answer to the progress question likely depends on how we weight per capita rates of progress vs. measures of total progress in the aggregate.
I think Science has become too nuanced and perhaps it is the lack of communication to the masses. Maybe we need to rekindle the scientific temper to make it more appealing and reduce barriers of access (that is a pretty contentious issue as long as the publishers act as specific gateways).