“Some rulers and people seem to feel threatened by progress and the fact-oriented power of science,” Countess Bettina Bernadotte said during opening remarks at the 67th Annual Nobel Laureate Meeting on June 25-30. This is in response to what many laureates who won their Nobel Prize in scientific fields perceive as a growing anti-science movement around the world.
— Christoph Handschin (@c_handschin) July 27, 2017
Nobel Prize recipients especially blistered politicians and voters who put feelings ahead of facts during panels on topics like “Science in a Post-Truth Era.” In the modern world, conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience groups such as the Flat Earth Society find it very easy to spread falsehoods and twist the truth to their own ends – often for the sake of garnering Youtube views. This frequently has the effect of drowning out the real work done by scientists and confusing Internet users who often don’t know which sources are considered trustworthy.
— SEB (@SEBiology) June 16, 2017
While most scientists are willing to admit that theories can be changed or scrapped altogether when new experimental data and observations come in, William E. Moerner, a Nobel laureate in Chemistry, reminded attendees, “Science is not an alternative fact or a belief system. It is something we have to use if we want to push society forward.”
— Lindau Nobel Meeting (@lindaunobel) June 29, 2017
Politicians can take advantage of the uncertainty in science to further confuse the issue for the sake of getting votes. Remember, this is a world in which LGBTQ organizations feel like they can threaten a university that finds that there’s no evidence of biological factors that contribute to homosexuality. Despite what some policymakers who want to use climate change as an excuse to curtail human industrial activity want you to think, climate science is nowhere close to being “settled science” and climate scientists will even admit that their climate models could stand to be refined if pressed.
This is what makes science different from religions that offer straightforward answers that their followers rarely question, except perhaps to debate some of the fine points. When scientists use the word “theory,” they aren’t talking about a hypothesis that hasn’t been tested through direct experimentation yet. They’re talking about an explanation that fits the available facts, has been tested through repeated experimentation, and can change as new tangible facts reveal themselves. This is different from a “law” that can be tested directly in a way that produces reliable and predictable results. You simply don’t see many people testing the law of gravity by jumping off a tall building because they know what will happen when they reach the pavement. This is often a difficult concept for scientific laymen to grasp when they may be used to being given easy answers out of a textbook.
— SAGE Science&Public (@SciPublic) July 14, 2017
So it should be no surprise that members of the scientific community took time away from the laboratory to organize events like April’s March for Science, and even that event has been criticized for having been hijacked by liberal interests. The members of the “Science in the Post-Truth Era” panel emphasized that scientists need to take lessons from the likes of Bill Nye on how to conduct effective outreach.
Helga Nowotny said, “We must help people understand the scientific process. We have failed to do that as scientists. We need better outreach to schools, families and the media.”
Nobel laureate giving a speech entitled “Science in a Post-Truth Era.” OH WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVEhttps://t.co/3tdPy1xk1w
— CrimesAgainstScience (@CrimesAgSci) July 26, 2017
Politicians might pay lip service to support scientific agencies like NOAA and NASA, but that hasn’t stopped them from turning around and telling the public that the sciences amount to pork-barrel spending that wastes taxpayer dollars every time these agencies’ annual budgets come up for renewal. This is frustrating for scientists who usually spend decades building their careers and still risk receiving the dreaded pink slip simply because Congress decided to ignore the sciences. It’s especially frustrating when politicians refuse to consider the scientific process when making policy. So the Nobel Prize recipients at the 67th annual Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting are right to emphasize that policymakers and the American public that votes for them need to be made more aware of the need for science-driven policy.
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