View Full Version : What is the one thing everyone should learn about science?

07-04-2005, 12:37:16

What is the one thing everyone should learn about science? Spiked asked 250 scientists - here we bring you some of the most provocative responses

Richard Dawkins Charles Simonyi professor of the public understanding of science at the University of Oxford, and a science writer and broadcaster

'I wish everyone understood Darwinian natural selection, and its enormous explanatory power, as the only known explanation of "design". The world is divided into things that look designed, like birds and airliners; and things that do not look designed, like rocks and mountains. Things that look designed are divided into those that really are designed, like submarines and tin openers; and those that are not really designed, like sharks and hedgehogs. Darwinian natural selection, although it involves no true design at all, can produce an uncanny simulacrum of true design. An engineer would be hard put to decide whether a bird or a plane was the more aerodynamically elegant.'

Gerardus 't Hooft Professor of theoretical physics at Utrecht University and joint recipient of the Nobel prize in physics, for his work on the quantum structure of electroweak interactions

'Is it really true that the world wants to hear only one thing about science? And then continue after that, with its ongoing religious, superstitious and political disputes? Maybe the world wants to hear only one thing from me. What could that be? All the important things that the world has already heard from my colleagues might be incomplete — my colleagues may have forgotten to tell the world something. What could that be? I do not know.'

Provost Harrison
07-04-2005, 12:39:24
"Never stick your fingers in electrical sockets"

07-04-2005, 12:41:05
Antony Hoare Senior researcher at Microsoft Corporation

I would teach the world that scientists start by trying very hard to disprove what they hope is true. When they fail, they have a good reason for believing what they hope is true, and can even convince others of its truth. A scientist always acknowledges the possibility of error, and is less likely to be mistaken than one who always claims to be right.

I really like this one.

07-04-2005, 12:41:59
Completed by this one:

Kathy Sykes Collier professor of public engagement in science and engineering at the University of Bristol

I would teach the world that science is not about truth, but is about trying to get closer to the truth. This is important because, too often, people look to scientists as having the "truth". What we have is wrapped in uncertainties, caveats and simplifications.

07-04-2005, 12:43:39
This one is also really good:

Dr Robert Maynard Senior medical officer at the UK Department of Health

The principle of refutation put forward by the philosopher Karl Popper, in his books The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Conjectures and Refutations, is my choice. Popper argued that scientific knowledge advanced most reliably by the development and refutation of hypotheses — much more reliably than by the accretion of evidence in support of theories.

He said you cannot prove that all swans are white by counting white swans, but you can prove that not all swans are white by counting one black swan. Popper's approach is now accepted, in principle, by many scientists. And yet much research is still based upon induction — upon the collection of facts to support our ideas. Erecting hypotheses that can be falsified, and designing experiments capable of doing so, is the hallmark of the true scientist. In fact, it distinguishes the scientist from the non-scientist.

07-04-2005, 12:45:06
Harry Kroto Professor of chemistry at Sussex University, and joint recipient of the Nobel prize in chemistry

The methods of science are manifestly effective, having made massive humanitarian contributions to society. It is this very effectiveness which the purveyors of mystical philosophies attack, because they recognise in it the chief threat to the belief-based source of their power and financial reward.

Michael Baum Emeritus professor of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities at University College London, and chairman of the Psychosocial Oncology Committee of the National Cancer Research Institute

I would teach the world that science = imagination + humility˛. If only politicians were ruled by the scientific prin_ciples of conjectures (hypothesis generation) and refutations (controlled experimentation), then the world would be a better place. To quote the 19th-century British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley: "The tragedy of science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

07-04-2005, 13:09:46
There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn nonetheless for the latter.

Academician Prokhor Zakharov
"Address to the Faculty"

Greg W
07-04-2005, 13:14:27
Too many quotes are bad for you

07-04-2005, 13:24:41
The most important thing is that scientists wear lab coats and spectacles, play chess, love LOTR and never get laid.

07-04-2005, 13:25:35
And they call it LOTR not lord of the rings.

07-04-2005, 13:26:07
Or have beards, smell funny and wear polo neck jumpers.

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 13:26:20

07-04-2005, 13:27:48
or live on their own in a house that is practically a library, are slightly autistic and wear thick rimmed glasses.

07-04-2005, 13:28:34
I haven't worn anything called a "jumper" since I was a toddler. You had me worried up until then, though.

07-04-2005, 13:28:53
or wear pink and yellow lycra and cycle alot.

07-04-2005, 13:30:52
or are red heaired muppets who say "Meemeemeemeep"

07-04-2005, 13:30:59
What's the amurican for jumper then?

Here's scientist Johnny Ball's daughter in a jumper:


07-04-2005, 13:32:43
oh linda.

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 13:34:13
yaaay and have a neat thingy round their ankle wich does something with their pants and drink 7up and know very much about very little and don't get banned at poly and use the words significantly better a lot and post and ant

07-04-2005, 13:36:23


American jumper


07-04-2005, 13:37:41
IIRC, like overalls for kids, sometimes a one piece top w/skirt for little girls. So is your jumper just what we call a sweater?

Um. What zmama said, I think. If that's the case, I never wore one. :D

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 13:37:47

holly hobby, i had a giant crush on her when i was little ( i meant smaller ).

07-04-2005, 13:38:48
So jumper is some kind of dress thing?

Why was MDA wearing a dress?

07-04-2005, 13:41:50
His mama thought he looked cute

07-04-2005, 13:42:34
Ah well, at least someone did.

07-04-2005, 13:43:43
Venom looks cute in a dress

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 13:44:07
I think it is unhealthy to dress a boy like a girl

07-04-2005, 13:45:24
Bad memories?

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 13:46:00

bad memory bad bad memory

07-04-2005, 13:47:52
Any pictures? :D

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 13:49:10
no hell no only in my head.
bad head bad bad head

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
07-04-2005, 14:53:15
MDAs quote: :lol:

I think the one thing everyone should know about science is what the scientific meaning of "theory" actually means. Ties in with Funko;s first two quotes there, I guess.

07-04-2005, 14:58:20
i think the one thing everyone should learn about science is right here:


07-04-2005, 18:35:32
Qaj, you're either the only one who noticed, or the only one who thought it was funny.

It makes you look bad, either way. :)

07-04-2005, 20:15:20
Doh! didnt even spot it.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
07-04-2005, 20:22:44
I was laughing at you, MDA, not with you :)

07-04-2005, 20:33:20
Oooh, nice save.

miester gandertak
07-04-2005, 20:51:17
Originally posted by King_Ghidra
i think the one thing everyone should learn about science is right here:

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00008438V.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg yep, and i look pretty good with a bra on my head

self biased
07-04-2005, 20:59:04

07-04-2005, 21:00:05
Oingo Boingo

07-04-2005, 23:25:54
Originally posted by miester gandertak
yep, and i look pretty good with a bra on my head