Posted tagged ‘trust’

Why I’m not spoofing Jenks

June 28, 2010


In a way, I’m a fan of Simon Jenkins’ work- it always provides easy blog fodder whenever he ventures into science commentary. His latest piece on the BBC’s Reith lectures painted a patently ludicrous comparison with a Soviet Academy, while the safety fears over flying through the Icelandic ash cloud were reminiscent of a McCarthyism of fear. Thoroughly daft exaggeration in my humble opinion, and worthy of a little satire.

The physicist Jon Butterworth is clearly of the same opinion, and posted a spoof Simon Jenkins piece on his Life and Physics blog, which then inspired Jennifer Rohn to declare Monday “Spoof Jenkins Day”- which quickly spread around the sciencey areas of the twitter-sphere. There is a summary of the resulting posts on Jennifer Rohn’s blog.

I know it’s intended as fun, but it just doesn’t feel right. One spoof post, if done well, is fine, but I firmly believe in attacking the ideas, rather than the people behind them. This post on the In the Dark blog is just unpleasant.

Satire takes skill and subtlety. This mass effort, though producing some gems, smacks too much of personal vendetta to my taste. Sorry folks.

In Brian we trust

March 9, 2010


It’s totally depressing that so much mainstream science coverage at the moment is about this crisis of trust in science.

It’s  a positive feedback loop: reporting on lack of trust reinforces the original story. Reporting on public opinion is a nonsense that diverts attention from the actual issues. In the case of climate science, the real question- and let’s cut to the chase here- is whether or not we’re all fucked, and whether or not there’s anything we can do about it.


Trust me, I’m a doctor (of philosophy)

February 19, 2010


2020Science this week posted a poll asking whether trust in science needs to be restored. It’s a bit of a simplistic question (as acknowledged by the author), you might get different answers by differentiating fields of science, but an interesting question nonetheless.

From my own experience, I’ve had mixed reactions when I’ve told people I work in nanoscience research. Last year for example I was told that nanotech was “a bit dodgy”. Why? Because the military are interested in it. Explaining that the military also used computers, moustache wax, rubber bands and boot polish, none of which are intrinsically dangerous, didn’t make much headway. At some point the seed had been planted that nano = evil. He just didn’t trust it, and no amount of eloquent, well-reasoned persuasion could shift his view. Maybe I’m just not a fun person to talk to at parties.

Ultimately, there’s no reason why some guy at a party should believe anything I have to say, because It’s not a case of trusting science, but listening to people you trust. (more…)


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