Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bad Science and the Scientific Method - Southampton talk at Cafe Scientifique

Bad Science - the method, the media and the message

18th September 2008, 7pm, Meeting: Cafe Scientifique, Soul Cellar, 78 West Marlands, Southampton, SO14 7FW. Map.

The science Café will consist of a short talk (20-30 minutes) followed by a discussion—everyone is invited to ask questions, raise issues and discuss the science presented in an informal and friendly atmosphere. The Science Café is free and no booking is necessary. For more information please contact: Dr Christian Kaiser, Science Café Co-ordinator Tel: 023 8059 2073, email

Dr. Phil Uttley, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton

One of the most important things science has given us is the scientific method itself, which since its first rigorous application in the 16th and 17th centuries has pushed our understanding of the universe and our place in it to previously unimaginable levels. And yet, the majority of the population are completely unaware of these simple principles which underpin human progress.
Much of this ignorance is down to the bad reporting and presentation of science by the media, which tends to portray science as arcane information handed down from on high, not a path to knowledge which most people can tread. At worst, the media actively pushes stories as `science' when they are really based on pseudoscience or a basic misinterpretation of scientific data.

In this talk, I'll use examples from science and the media to take a look at some aspects of the scientific method, how we can use them to make sense of the world, and show how without them, we can all be led astray.

We'll see how our unscientific ways of thinking may have been useful in the past when we lived as hunter-gatherers, but are really holding us back today.
On the way we'll look at cloud-creatures and nun-buns, the connection between superstitious pigeons and stock-market analysts, and I'll also point the finger at some less-than-obvious culprits in the bad-science wars.
Most importantly, I want to show how the scientific method is relevant to our daily lives and not just the classroom or laboratory.

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