Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Op-ed on TV's view of scientists

Interesting editorial by my friend Chris Reddy in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Check it out here.

1 comment:

D. B. Paul said...

I agree. Not just TV, but all media gives the impression that science can solve every problem accurately and quickly, when it reality that is far from the truth. Scientists can make errors; they can be victims of incomplete data or unrecognized and unknown effects in what they study; they can succumb to political and financial pressures to produce certain results, or at least emphasize certain results and ignore others. I remember a story I heard, don't know if it is urban myth or not, about spinach. When I was growing up, I was told spinach would make you strong (remember Popeye - a whole TV cartoon series based on that idea!). The story I heard was that years later, someone had gone back to check the calculations that lead to the conclusion that spinach would make you strong, and found an error in the calculation in which an important number was off by a factor of 10, completely scewing the result. I know that is a funny example, but it shows the nature of science - anything claimed as science needs to be repeatable, testable and verifiable, over and over again. So much what passes for science these days is not.