Evidence must trump authority – the stakes could not be higher

Daan Frenkel Photo Gabriella Bocchetti©University of Cambridge

Photo Gabriella Bocchetti©University of Cambridge

Morning program monday: 10:00 – 11:30

Evidence must trump authority – the stakes could not be higher

The scientific method is under attack. Science is unique in that itprogresses by challenging authority: progress is made by collectingevidence to test and revise existing ideas. However, that approach is notpopular among those in society whose statements would not stand up tosuch scrutiny.So, although most people are happy with scientific discoveries when theyvisibly improve our lives, there is less enthusiasm for the often nuancedstatements that result from an evidence-based approach to society,climate or the environment, subjects where we never have completeinformation.

Part of the problem is our own fault: the scientific community has beenonly too happy to advertise its often spectacular advances, rather than itsgreatest contribution to society, namely the scientific method.

In an uncertain world – and arguably the future of the human race is moreuncertain now than at any other moment in recent history – we need anevidence-based approach to make the best decisions given that we neverknow all the facts.In my talk, I will discuss Order, Disorder and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, because this is one of the few subjects where scientiststried to decide a question by voting – and failed.

Daan Frenkel Photo Gabriella Bocchetti©University of Cambridge
Emeritus professor and freelance scientist
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