Standing up for science


ONE of the biggest, if not the biggest threats to humanity is stupidity. It’s something that appears to be on display a lot in public life at the moment, for example Donald Trump calling climate change a “hoax” and Michael Gove’s rather silly assertion during the EU referendum that people “had enough of experts”. So great is the concern about the rejection of science and the rise of misinformation that thousands of people took to the UK’s streets last weekend for the global March for Science. Protesters were calling for government policies to protect and encourage research amid fears that it will fall victim to our post-truth age where scientific evidence and facts are ignored.
For the last few hundred years, science and scientists have made incredible advances and provided us with deep and powerful insights into how the universe works. And the scientific method is probably the most successful way of searching for the truth that humanity has ever come up with.
You put forward a hypothesis and test it. If it disagrees with observations it is wrong. If it agrees, someone else will put your conclusions under the microscope to confirm or deny your findings. If they get the same result as you, you’re onto something and the truth begins to emerge.
An established scientific fact is not something that you can choose to believe or disbelieve, it is a fact regardless of what you think. For example, the Earth goes round the sun, E=MC2 and evolution explains the different forms of life that exist. Unfortunately, we are living at a time when prominent and powerful people are standing in denial of science, which is a recipe for disaster.
It is very difficult to argue with idiots, but the weekend’s marches were a good start. So let us all join hands and repeat the protestors’ chant of: “What do we want? Evidence-based policy. When do we want it? After peer review.”

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