Science and reason

The Guardian has a good article about science, reason, and Martin Rees’s question about whether humans will use advances in science to survive or destroy themselves.

Using reason, humans associated disease with an invisible agency, which is why malaria has its name, from mal aria (bad air). Using science, humans grasped the fact that malaria was a microscopic infection delivered by an identifiable insect in particular climatic conditions, one that could be treated and prevented.

The question raised by Martin Rees, astronomer-royal and president of the Royal Society, in his Reith lectures – the last of which is broadcast on Radio 4 today – is whether humans are smart enough to make the best of the accelerating advance of science. Lord Rees’s book, Our Final Century, speculates that human civilisation may not survive another 90 years. The cocktail of modern biology and information technology could advance human prospects, or as easily deliver oblivion.

Just as good as the article, though, are the comments beneath it. Climate change and the basic philosophy of science continue to drive a wedge between reasonable people and loons.