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Anjana Ahuja
science columnist at The Times

One key challenge is for society to rediscover a respect for clear, impartial, evidence-based thinking. Sentiment has its place, but it does not belong on the same policy-making platform as scientific inquiry. This undue reverence for sentiment - valuing how a person ‘feels’ about a technology over what they actually know from experiments – risks cultivating a Luddite attitude towards technology or, even worse, propagating the idea that technology is a kind of dark magic that can only be harnessed for nefarious purposes. I am greatly concerned by the intrusion of religion into the scientific arena - while everyone is entitled to follow their own particular belief system, believers are not entitled to demand that religious doctrine be accorded the same status as scientific theory. Superstition and sentiment are no substitute for scientific evidence; scientists, politicians and the media and theologians should be bolder about saying so.

Superstition and sentiment have, in fact, led us to become obsessed with the risks of technology and blind to its benefits. We must challenge this perverse worldview - my children will depend on, perhaps even invent, future technologies to combat such threats as climate change, energy shortages and mass starvation. I would rather they were empowered by knowledge than cowed by fearful ignorance. So, for me personally, the education of children is a terrifically important issue, especially now that religiously minded philanthropists can run schools. I hope such schools do not allow the net of irrationality to ensnare future generations.

See Anjana Ahuja‘s website.

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