Would it be better to drop ‘Science’ and use the c-word instead?


Those fol­low­ing the US Presidential flirt­ing may be inter­ested in Science Debate 2008 cam­paign. Janet Stemwedel has com­ments on why it isn’t a mat­ter of know­ing facts. Science mat­ters, but why does it mat­ter? Steve Grand had the answer back in 2004.

When I become king, my first act will be to ban the word “sci­ence” from all pub­lic places. No more will advert­ise­ments be allowed to say “here comes the sci­ence bit”, as a pre­lude to 15 seconds of mean­ing­less twaddle. No longer will inno­cent nerds on nat­ural yoghurt ads find them­selves lured into sop­or­ific con­form­ity by pretty young women with a fet­ish for the word “bac­teria”. Above all, show­ing thinly dis­guised dis­aster movies under the Horizon ban­ner, as if they were actu­ally sci­ence broad­cast­ing, will hence­forth become a crime pun­ish­able by death. No, make that slow mutilation.


Perhaps we should replace the word “sci­ence” with “cit­izen­ship”. Anyone who doesn’t show a proper interest in the world around them is hardly tak­ing their role as a cit­izen of the uni­verse ser­i­ously. There’s a lot of stuff out there to mar­vel at, and for an intel­li­gent human being to remain ignor­ant of it is a deep insult to our own spe­cies, let alone the rest of nature. So let’s get on and mar­vel at it for heaven’s sake: we’re not here for long.

It’s worth read­ing the whole thing.

Seven Wonders III: The Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China
The Great Wall. Photo (cc) Bernard Goldbach.

I think this is another obvi­ous choice for any Seven Wonders list, so I’m a bit baffled as to why it isn’t one of the New 7 Wonders. A lot of people think it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but this isn’t the case. The ori­ginal list was based around the east­ern Mediterranean. Another prob­lem is that an awful lot of the wall isn’t ancient. The Qin and Han period parts of the wall are ancient, dat­ing from the last few cen­tur­ies BC, but the build­ing of the Wall con­tin­ued into the Ming period which is almost Early Modern. Despite this it’s still amaz­ing, so why was it over­looked?
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