Wednesday, 7 July 2010

more likely than not

I was listening to a very subdued scientist on the radio today. He was declaring that scientists can never say anything is absolutely true. Science he said is constantly challenging itself and is 'self-correcting'. His topic was the hooha that has continued since the emails for the University of East Anglia were made public.

Now I am not a spokesman for either the pro-global warming or the anti-global warming camps. There is a delightful American phrase which I intend to use more and more... "I don't believe I have a dog in that fight". However this sudden rush of humility sits very strangely when we compare it to some of the assertions of Dr Richard Dawkins. He asserts that evolution is proven and that there is no doubt. We now understand the universe, he declares. Perhaps we can hope that the new mood of science spokespersons is contagious, but I won't hold my breath.

This afternoon's radio science spokesperson concluded that the most that science could really say was 'more likely than not'. How many degrees short of certainty this is were not explained. If Dr Dawkins adopts this stance we shall begin to hear that Neo Darwinian Evolution 'cannot be said to be absolutely true' but is 'more likely than not'. I won't be holding my breath to hear Dr Dawkins say that either.

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