Thursday, 13 July 2017

Time to Kill a Science Myth?

Image courtesy of Becker1999, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Joel Kontinen

The war on science is a leftist slogan that has little or any bearing on reality, but rather serves as a warning example of Orwellian newspeak.

It has nevertheless brought thousands of people on the streets, but they might actually not know how science works.

Writing in Nature, Daniel Sarewitz takes on the myth that basic research is a “miracle machine” that would benefit all citizens:

But the myth of the miracle machine harms science and society because it shields scientists from accountability, governance and being responsive to human needs. A major reason that pervasive problems such as poor quality publications, hyper-competition and hype have been allowed to fester is the miracle-machine ideology: give us money, leave us alone and we’ll solve the world’s problems.”

It is not difficult to agree with him that ideology plays a major role in today’s naturalistic science. This might be a good thing for the researchers who get paid, but not so much for society.

Perhaps it would indeed be best to “kill the myth of the miracle machine,” as Dr. Sarewitz puts it.


Sarewitz, Daniel. 2017. Kill the myth of the miracle machine. Nature 547, 139.