Sunday, 28 February 2010
Whenever someone flicks through a newspaper, notices a headline along the theme of “Scientists now say X or Y is safe”, and exclaims, “Looks like the scientists have done another U-turn again”, it’s a bang-head-against-wall moment right there: another one's fallen into that blackhole of misunderstanding the fundamental nature of science.
Theirs is the kind of thinking that says, “Oh, those scientists tell you one thing, then claim it’s the opposite. Don’t listen to them.” Unfortunately, this misses the point that science evolves, with trial and error simply being the nature of the beast.
Sadly many don't realise that it's not all eureka moments, with scientists slamming their fists on the table shouting, “By George, I’ve got it! Where’s my Nobel?!” In reality, it’s a lengthy, time-consuming, often frustrating process. After all, we’re not talking about completing a crossword puzzle or finding that elusive rollo hidden down the back of a sofa - it's about foraging into the unknown to search for an intangible something, sometimes not quite knowing whether that something even exists.