John Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Thu Aug 24 09:04:57 CDT 2000

Brian Jones makes a significant point, I think, when drawing attention to the
strong involvement of non-Scientists in formation and organization of
groups in the past. There also seemed to be a greater involvement by the
lay public. According to the book Heyday of Natural History the general public
would attend serious scientific presentations on the most obscure topics. Now
of course there are so many more alternatives. Perhaps on the positive side
many young children seem to be drawn to natural history one way or another,
even if they do not pusue this in later years, it may be responsible for
some of the "respect" science still receives among many adults, and this
attitude may be
transferred to the suceeding generation.

In relation to the Royal Society, my perception of the organization was
that it
had developed an elitist persona so I certainly did not join it. A few
meetings I
did attend were full of the stuffing of formality, rigidity and a certain
social order. That
may be fine for those for which such societies are a necessary prop in
climbing the
ladder, but it wasn't for me. This sense of social conservatism extended
into science itself with the NZ Royal Scociety, through its editorial
policies, being instrumental in the blackout and suppression of
panbiogeography. Not a healthy science culture.

 I am in agreement that it is not sufficient to just complain about public
attitudes, and in my view it is necessary to change the way science is
taught, including evolutionary science.

As for the distinction Curtis Clark draws between science and religion, I
am not so sure. It seems to me that philosophers have a difficult time with
this demarkation also. As Lakatos pointed out, Popperian falsificationism
as a criterion of science can also be successfully applied to witchcraft.

John Grehan

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