Our daily news bulletins bring us tales of the wonder of science, from Mars rovers and intelligent robots to developments in cancer treatment, and yet often the emphasis is on the potential threats posed by science. It appears that irrationality is on the rise in western society, and public opinion is increasingly dominated by unreflecting prejudice and unwillingness to engage with factual evidence. From genetically modified crops and food, organic farming, the MMR vaccine, environmentalism, the precautionary principle and the new anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements, the rejection of the evidence-based approach nurtures a culture of suspicion, distrust, and cynicism, and leads to dogmatic assertion and intolerance. In this compelling and timely examination of science and society, Dick Taverne argues that science, with all the benefits it brings, is an essential part of civilised and democratic society: it offers the most hopeful future for mankind.
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