Friday 20 October 2017

John Crown: We need to inoculate ourselves against scientific ignorance

The Enlightenment was our greatest achievement -- let's not undo it, writes John Crown

There was something faintly medieval about the story last week that six Italian scientists had been found guilty of manslaughter for failing to predict a 2009 earthquake which killed 300 people in the city of l'Aquila.

The problem, of course, is that scientists can't predict earthquakes.

The influence of scientific ignorance on public policy is not new. Perhaps the most celebrated case in history was that of Galileo Galilei, who was found guilty of heresy by the Catholic Inquisition for the crime of teaching that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and not vice versa. Luckily for him, Galileo escaped a fiery execution, but was sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest.

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