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How science lost audience confidence



‘Science’ has become a political keyword. "I believe in science," Joe Biden tweeted six days before he was elected president. "Donald Trump does not. It's that simple, folks.

But what does it mean to believe in science? The British science writer Matt Ridley draws a sharp distinction between "science as a philosophy" and "science as an institution." The former grows out of the Enlightenment, which Mr. Ridley defines as " precedence over rational and objective reasoning. "The latter, like all human institutions, are irregular, prone to falling well under the stated principles. Mr. Ridley says that the Covid pandemic has" thrown in sharp relief the link between science as philosophy and science as institution. "

Mr. Ridley, 63, describes himself as a" science critic, which is a profession that does not really exist. "He compares his calling to an art critic and dismisses most other science writers as" cheerleaders. " high attitude seems appropriate for a hereditary English peer.Like the fifth Viscount Ridley he is a member of the UK House of Lords and he zooms with me from his ancestor dresete in Northumberland, just south of Scotland, between sessions of Parliament (which he also attends by Zoom).

Kl. Oxford Almost 40 years ago, Mr. Ridley studied the mating patterns of pheasants. His fieldwork involved a lot of squatting in the long country grass to find out why these "fun, interesting" birds are polygamous ̵

1; unlike most other birds. With Canadian molecular biologist Alina Chan, he is completing a book called "Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19", which will be published in November.

This is likely to make writers unwelcome in China. When Mr. Ridley worked on the book, he says, it became "terribly clear" that Chinese researchers "are not free to explain and reveal everything they have done with bat virus." This information must be "dug out" by outsiders like him and Mrs. Chan. He says the Chinese government ordered all scientists to send the results relevant to the virus for government approval before other scientists or international agencies could vet them: "It is shocking in the wake of a deadly pandemic that has killed millions and destroyed the world. "


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