Today I have an article inThe Irish Times, the Irish newspaper of record. It is the first of a series of commissioned articles on science and society. Basically, I make the point that if Newton and Boyle were to come back today, they would be astonished at the progress science has made but dismayed at the fact that this knowledge is restricted to so few. This is a great pity for two reasons
(i) the great discoveries of science are an important part of the human experience
(ii) a great many of the challenges facing modern society involve an understanding of basic science, and more importantly, how science is done.
I’m constantly amazed at the way expert scientific opinion is drowned out in media debates by those who know nothing of the subject, from discussions of nuclear power to climate change. But is this any real surprise if neither journalists nor the public have any knowlege of the painstaking, self-correcting methods of science? Ons solution might be that science form a basic part of every child’s education.
There was a program on climate on TV3 last night that illustrates the point exactly: a 50/50 tv debate between 2 scientists and 2 members of a pressure group who knew nothing of the subject and repeated every well-known canard imaginable…utterly depressing