In the 24th June issue of New Scientist, a comment column observed “In this post-truth world …….. the power of facts is in retreat from public discourse”.
This is a potentially shattering observation in terms of not just the drowning of common sense but, quite likely, of the survival of the human race. Now, more than ever, science has to sell itself against attack by vested interests using social media. Let us look as some examples.
- “Agricultural spay chemicals are dangerous and should never be used.” It is true that they are dangerous and so is starvation. Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?
- “Shale gas exploration is dangerous and will damage the environment and threaten our children’s health.” It is certainly true that shale gas exploration has risks and when we run out of energy to heat people’s homes, people will die. Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?
Why is it that we as a society vote into power politicians who distort the truth? Why is it that we do not educate the next generation to NOT allow social media to distort the truth about events of every day? Science is, or should be, fact-based common sense. So, all scientists, do not distort the truth; tell it how it is.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., 10 August 17