Emergent Wisdom

Thoughtful Observations from Business and LIfe


Sir Paul Nurse Abandons Scientific Principles on becoming President of Royal Society

sir_paul_nurseIn his new position as president of The Royal Society, Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse took the opportunity to present an episode of Horizon on the BBC, titled “Science under Attack” (BBC, 9pm, 24th Jan 2011). Now, you might expect that the president of The Royal Society would be someone who upholds scientific principles above everything. But no. Right from the very beginning in his opening comments he commented on the archives of the Royal Society as ‘bearing witness to over 350 years of scientific achievement’. I don’t think anyone is disputing that enormous gains in scientific knowledge have been made, as well as the scientific knowledge leading to technological progress. But there was no mention of 350 years of scientific blunders, fraud and unethical behaviour that inevitably accompanies any field of human endeavour - No, just the progress. Neither was there any mention of the fact that scientific consensus has been wrong on many occasions, repeatedly, and a prolonged refusal to acknowledge evidence contrary to ideas held by the majority of established experts in the relevant fields. With his reverential tones when describing scientists and scientific institutions, from the start this programme made it clear it was a hagiography of the orthodox establishment. And not surprisingly, scientific bandwagons he presented as being unfairly ‘under attack’ from naïve groups of people being misled by wayward ‘experts’ were Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) – now re-branded ‘climate change’ due to evidence of global cooling – vaccines, GM foods, and HIV/AIDS.