Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse advocates that science should be at the centre of the economy, government and culture in his 2012 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. It has crystalised thoughts I've had for a while. At first I considered Interactive Democracy to be about individual empowerment; then I thought that the best democracies should have the best quality of debate; now, I wonder if objective facts are the essential ingredients.
That's not to say that empowerment, creativity and debates about values aren't important aspects of ID. They are. And it's not to dismiss the problems of feedback loops in social sciences, where participants adjust there behaviour to make the most of the rules and otherwise game the system; or of predicting the future; problems that confound a strictly scientific approach to some issues (admittedly, not what Sir Paul was alluding to). But it does lead to the conclusion that the pursuit of objective truth, not mass opinion, is essential.
In his wide ranging lecture, in which he entertainingly compares the turmoil of enlightenment Italy with the concurrent unproductive peace of democratic Switzerland, Sir Paul highlights the problem of scientists becoming ensconced in their own narrow subjects, unable to integrate creatively with the wider community, or even other scientists. Here, Interactive Democracy can help. It sets them free to profoundly influence government and culture by directly initiating or contributing to debates. Here's to a new enlightenment!