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Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Too much to ask?

I have no problem with people believing in gods, or indeed holding any supernatural beliefs - I think I've made that quite clear in previous entries here. I also have no problem with people who believe that these irrationalities are compatible with science. I think they're horribly and utterly wrong, but I also accept that they're quite entitled to hold those beliefs.

What I do have a problem with, however, is when this sort of person is appointed to a top position related to science. Such as, oh I don't know, The British Science Minister, who claims to have a "sixth sense". Also, he believes in God and sees no conflict between these beliefs and science.

Also, apparently, the new Canadian Minister for Science and Technology is a doctor of chiropractic.

Is it too much to ask that our top science positions are filled by people with the ability to think critically, and in a scientific manner?

Apparently.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I'd be interested to see Lord Drayson's comments in context. Malcolm Gladwell's 'Blink', iirc, is all about the role of the subconscious and its ability to figure things out independently of the conscious mind. But Gladwell doesn't think it's anything paranormal - it's just pattern-recognition of incredibly subtle signs. Hence the guy who can tell when people are going to double-fault in tennis - his brain is clearly geared to notice things that most people don't, and he's working with tennis coaches to figure out what that is. The skill seems to come with experience too (this is less surprising, imho), like the fireman who ordered his men out of a building due to 'something not being right', just before the floor collapsed. An investigation afterwards revealed that the room was far hotter (and quieter, I think) than it should have been, due to a previously-undetected basement fire. I think it's reasonable to say that some people could be 'naturally' better at this than others, and if people want to call it a 'sixth sense', whatever.

So Lord Drayson *could* have been talking about this and been quoted out of context. Having said that, it does read a little like he's extrapolating from subconscious processing to 'I'm allowed to know stuff without any evidence', which is clearly mental.