Monday, August 25, 2003

Science and belief

it might be worthwhile to take an interest in why science continues to be regarded by so many with mistrust.

I've thought about this for a long time, and I don't know the answer, but I have some ideas.

Science is hard. It takes effort to understand. Its beauty is subtle. It demands careful attention to details. Most people want easy, but they are jealous of any authority that tells them the intellectually easy way is wrong.

Science requires the suspension of belief, not disbelief, in favor of looking. But belief is a matter of choice for most people, rather than a matter of evidence. About evolution, my sixth grade teacher said, "It's not nice."

As if that mattered. Yet niceness did matter to her more than the evidence, and I think that perception or another matters most to most people.

So, does science need a change in PR? It's not enough to be right. It's not even persuasive. Does science need heroism and myth just as much as politics or religion does? Well, there hasn't been much of heroism or myth in science since July of 1969. (And, yes, I do realize that landing on the moon was really more about politics than it was about science.)

(Originally a response to this.)