I studied science, physics to be specific, and it has always intrigued me to know what underlies everything that happens around us. I have more recently been involved in computer science, which is rather an example of technology. During my lifetime of some 64 years most societies in the world have experienced an increase in disposable incomes and many other positive goals, but perception of well-being is mixed with many people not content with the way things are. There is more to a good life than more and more ‘stuff’.
Science is an expensive process. It consists of:
- collecting data
- analysing it
- Formulating theories that explain the observed data
- Using the theory to exhaustively test all available, current data
- Predicting outcomes of the theory which can be tested
- Collecting more data
- Refining the theory
Trying to cut the cost of science should not be a priority; any savings are likely to actually lead to more expensive problems. Decisions about food, health, the environment and social matters are decided by politicians and economists. I think that the world owes most of its prosperity to science and technology, not politics or economics.
This is a time when decision makers and the media openly challenge some results of science. This they have a right to do but only in terms of the process outlined above, not the expression of gut extinct, often portrayed as an argument equivalent to the scientific one. It is not. It must not be accepted because it is convenient for decision makers or resonates with vested interests. If new events challenge the current view the current view must be further investigated. Decisions must be based on the best science available, imperfect though it may turn out to be.
Here is a principle which I believe the world needs
International regulations should be agreed and put in place and policed to make them equivalent across the world, according to best possible practice, based on independent scientific research.