Uncertain Science, Uncertain World by geophysicist Dr. Henry Pollack, explains how everyone is born a scientist, with fierce curiosity, instinctive exploration and experimentation being the way children observe and understand the world around them. Then at school, “Science is presented as answers rather than questions,” and science becomes boring. If instead we were taught about discovering facts and deriving calculations we would realise how cool it is. Scientists don’t help themselves either with a general reluctance to engage in public communication and frequent mistakes by journalists lead to common misconceptions.
This is a book about the inherent uncertainty in science and discusses how the public’s tendency to “equate science with certainty, rather than uncertainty” has created consequences for science. This is true for science in general but has become increasingly a problem for Climate Change science in particular. This public illusion of certainty, in an area that actually thrives on uncertainty, can be easily exploited by vested interests. “When scientists acknowledge that they do not know everything about a complex natural phenomenon, the public sometimes translates that to mean that scientists do not know anything about the subject” says Pollack, and, for issues such as climate change, there are many disingenuous people actively encouraging this false jump in logic.