Published 19 April 2017, StarTalk Radio Productions, USA
How did America rise up from a backwoods country to be one of the greatest nations the world has ever known?
We pioneered industries. And all of this required the greatest innovations in science and technology in the world.
And so science is a fundamental part of the country that we are.
But, in this, the 21st century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not. What is reliable and what is not reliable. What you should believe, and what should you not believe.
And when you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.
Grabs: evolutionary not as fact but as theory, anti climate change, anti vax
That's not the country I remember growing up in. I'm old enough to remember the sixties and the seventies. We had a hot war and then a cold war and all this was going on. But I don't remember any time when people were standing in denial of what science was.
One of the great things about science, is that it's an entire exercise in finding what is true.
You have a hypothesis, you test it. I get a result. A rival of mine double checks it, because they think I might be wrong. They perform an even better experiment than I did, and they find out, “Hey, this experiment matches! Oh my gosh. We’re on to something here!” And out of this rises a new, emergent truth.
It does it better than anything else we have ever come up with as human beings.
This is science. It’s not something to toy with. It’s not something to say, “I don’t believe E = mc2.” You don’t have that option!
When you have an established scientific emergent truth, it is true whether or not you believe in it, and the sooner you understand that, the faster we can get on with the political conversations about how to solve the problems that face us.
So once you understand that humans are warming the planet, you can then have a political conversation about that ... do we have carbon credits ... do we fund ... those have political answers.
And every minute one is in denial, you are delaying the political solution that should have been established years ago.
As a voter, as a citizen, scientific issues will come before you, and isn't it worth it to say, 'allright, let me at least become scientifically literate, so that I can think about these issues and act intelligently upon them.'
Recognise what science is, and allow it to be what it can and should be.in the service of civilisation.
It's in our hands.
Recognize what science is and allow it to be what it can and should be in the service of civilization. It’s in our hands.