Is It Tough Love Time For Science?

Is "science broken" or self-correcting? And who is going to do the grown-up thing and fix the game (instead of scoring points within it)?

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

Keep reading Show less

Why Science Must Embrace Imagination, Intuition, and Evidence

All science begins with a leap of intuition, says Richard Dawkins, but we can only ever find objective truths by knowing when to let evidence take over from emotion.

You can be committed to science, but as soon as you're committed to a hypothesis, you've walked off the trail of objective truth, says Richard Dawkins. For him, that is the mission of science and the purpose of the scientific method: these truths exist—they are the foundations of innovations like vaccinations, antibiotics, and space travel, because they are built on something solid: evidence. Einstein is known for highly valuing the role of imagination in science, and Dawkins agrees: imagination and intuition are the springboards scientific progress depends on—but when evidence refutes a hypothesis or a feeling, that's the end of the line. Dogged persistence doesn't get you any closer to the truth, says Dawkins, only critical thinking can do that. Richard Dawkins' latest book is Science In The Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.

Hey Bill Nye! What Do You Consider Your Greatest Achievement?

Bill Nye is the CEO of The Planetary Society, has his own Netflix show, flew on Air Force One with President Obama, and has at least six honorary doctorate degrees. But there's one thing that makes him prouder than all that combined.

Bill Nye has many feathers in his cap — he's the CEO of The Planetary Society, has a brand-new Netflix show, flew on Air Force One with President Obama, has at least six honorary doctorate degrees and two books to his name — but there's thing one he's most proud of, and he shares it with Tracey, a 19-year-old student just beginning her science studies at college. As she steps into a lifelong pursuit of science, Nye advises her on the greatest contribution scientists can make to their community. Dropping awe-inspiring facts and publishing groundbreaking findings are exciting parts of being a scientist but the greatest contribution a scientist can make is to educate people — especially kids from a young age — about the scientific method. Carl Sagan, Bill Nye's mentor, can explain this in better words than anyone: "Science is more than a body of knowledge, it’s a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan — political or religious — who comes ambling along. The people have to be educated, and they have to practice their skepticism and their education otherwise we don’t run the government, the government runs us." Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Keep reading Show less