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August 18, 2007

Weekend Reading 24

This is an interesting article, primarily about climate change, by Freeman Dyson (of Dyson Sphere fame).

HERETICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

1. The Need for Heretics

In the modern world, science and society often interact in a perverse way. We live in a technological society, and technology causes political problems. [...] The public does not have much use for a scientist who says, “Sorry, but we don’t know”. The public prefers to listen to scientists who give confident answers to questions and make confident predictions of what will happen as a result of human activities. So it happens that the experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future, and end up believing their own predictions. Their predictions become dogmas which they do not question. The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true, and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong. That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed.

Posted by joke du jour at August 18, 2007 08:00 PM

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