2007 : WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?

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Director, External Affairs, Science Museum Group; Co-author, Supercooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed
Science Editor, The Daily Telegraph; Coauthor, After Dolly

The Public Will Become Immune To Hype

I am quietly optimistic that in the wake of years of hype over the practical significance of gene discoveries, fusion power, magic bullets, superconductivity, gene therapy, cures for ageing, and embryonic stem cells*, the public will become more pessimistic about the practical benefits of discoveries made in the lab and more appreciative of what science is really about — basic curiousity, rationality and the never-ending dialogue between ideas and experiments. With luck, the public will spend more time gazing up at the blue skies of science and not down at the brown torrent of parochial and humdrum expectations about what science can do for them. Science does not have to be useful, save to put forward useful models of how nature works. Science does not have to cure disease. Science does not have to make us live to 120. Science does not have to make money.

* Being a science journalist, I plead guilty on all counts