Magazine
Latest Issue

Why I’m skeptical about the unique power of the “scientific method”

I like to remind my theorist colleagues that Swedish engineer Gideon Sundback, who invented the zip, made a bigger intellectual leap than most of us ever will

By Martin Rees   March 2020

John Goodenough, 97, collecting his Nobel Prize in Stockholm. Photo: © IBL/SHUTTERSTOCK; U S AIR FORCE/ZUMA WIRE/SHUTTERSTOCK; KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK; ANDREW HARNIK/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

The word “scientist” still tends to conjure up an image of an Einstein lookalike—an unkempt figure (usually male, white and elderly)—or else a youthful geek (also probably white and male) or, in 10 Downing Street, a “super-talented weirdo.” But when it comes to intellectual—as distinct from gender and racial—diversity, there is a surprising mix.

I have spent a lifetime in science, and realise “outsiders” regard it as an inaccessible world. But if they realised that our…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect