Slow to criticise

January 19, 1996

It transpires from Sir Michael Atiyah's 1995 presidential address to the Royal Society (Perspective, THES, January 5) that the society has at long last awoken to the dangers of anti-science. What a striking contrast with ten years ago.

Arguably the worst (and most damaging) single anti-science item ever to feature in the British media was the Science . . . Fiction television programme broadcast by BBC2 on February 17 and 22, 1986, (and the related article "Dismantling Truth: The Fallacy of Scientific Objectivity" published in The Listener on February 20, 1986). Did the Royal Society object? No. On the contrary, Science . . . Fiction was a Horizon programme, and the Royal Society obligingly co-operated in its making.

The Royal Society's (quite ambiguous) definition of science in Science Education 11-18 in England and Wales (1982) was subjected to a devastating critique in a letter by H. Ramage published in September 5, 1986, issue of The THES. The Royal Society never replied to this serious criticism.

In his address Sir Michael also said: "We need some humility . . . We have to examine our own position and see whether any of the criticisms levelled against us are valid." It is never too late for one to practise what one preaches.

T. S. HARRISS London SW18

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns