Thursday, 27 January 2011

Science is under attack

New president of the Royal Society, Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse, presents a BBC Horizon programme addressing the erosion of trust in science, asking whether science is under concerted attack, and whether scientists themselves are partly to blame.
Obviously science itself should be deeply sceptical, critical, and self-examining. But Nurse’s focus is on those outright attempts to diminish the whole process of scientific method, and the growth industry in pseudoscientific “denialist” attacks on well-corroborated theories even once the alternatives have been thoroughly discredited, “from the theory that man-made climate change is warming our planet, to the safety of GM food, or that HIV causes AIDS.” 
Paul Nurse interviews scientists and campaigners from both sides of the climate change debate, and travels to New York to meet Tony, who has HIV but doesn’t believe that that the virus is responsible for AIDS. This is a passionate defence of the importance of scientific evidence and the power of experiment, and a look at what scientists themselves need to do to earn trust in controversial areas of science in the 21st century. 
Watch on iPlayer until 22 Feb 2011: