APS News | Letters to the Editor

Acknowledging the Limits of Science

Published Mar 16, 2023

The Back Page of the January 2023 APS News [by Michael Smith and Don Lincoln, titled, “To Save Science, Talk With the Public”] is very timely. Engaging with the public is an important responsibility of scientists. It is vital to remember that if we expect the people to respect us, we have to respect the people. We have to present science as science and not as some set of dogma that have to be accepted by the people on the authority of their “betters.” Science is questioning, testing, and searching for truth and reality.

Recently, science has been presented to the public by politicians more often than by scientists. The phrase “settled science,” coined by a politician, is a contradiction in terms. Such well-established theories as quantum mechanics and relativity are constantly being tested for the limits of their applicability. Even the principle of the conservation of matter was questioned in the Steady State Theory. If we are to regain respect and credibility with the people, we have to acknowledge the limits as well as the achievements of science.

– Chester Sullivan (Iowa)

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