Let's agree to disagree on modern myths 1

May 1, 2008

I disagree profoundly, completely and absolutely with Simon Blackburn's provocative view that "the scientist" is a myth ("Reality check", 24 April).

A scientist is someone who applies the scientific method to the acquisition of knowledge and understanding. Their discipline ("biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians and so on") is a secondary matter and may even be irrelevant. A scientist trained in one subject area will immediately understand how to interpret the validity of a statement made in another, even if he or she does not possess the corpus of knowledge that underpins it. The scientific method has to be one of the most successful and influential products of the human intellect.

It is curious that Blackburn also accepts that religious belief is a myth. There I agree with him, but precisely because it is incompatible with being a scientist.

Martin Luck, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham.

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