Science, Truth, Sound bites & The News

December 7, 2009

About once a day I make the fundamental error of either turning on the radio and hearing a news broadcast or watching the news on TV. Big mistake.
I usually feel, either I have tuned in to an advert for something, by someone who has something to flog, but no necessary brand name, or I am being introduced to a message about the faith I should have in the brand ‘science’.
Since when did something become right because someone, calling themselves a scientist, and quite possibly not only being one but being a really smart one, claims to have proven something. I was always taught that science was not a way to prove anything, what happened to the null hypothesis?

I mistakenly believe, apparently, that tiny incremental bit by tiny incremental bit we weed out what is not actually correct about the way the world works, and so finally one day we will sort of understand a bit about ourselves and our world. So, how come I keep being told that today scientists have proven something, either that every adult with half a brain has known for the last millennium or that some study that covers a microcosm of existence has at last proven the truth of something?
Whether it is about climate change, where the truths of various kinds are vehemently told by variously funded ‘scientists’ or about how some new insight from the field of say Biology has now at last answered some fundamental question. Why are we supposed to be given nothing to think about, nothing to debate, nothing to wonder about? What makes the sound bite, the tiny fragment of information, so valuable and acceptable to us today?

Phill Boas

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