Feeds

Pope warns against alarmist science

Don't scare the huddled masses

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Pope Benedict XVI has warned scientists to beware of making alarming predictions without having the proper science to back them up. His remarks are widely being interpreted as a swipe at last week's forecast that by 2050 the world would have all but depleted its fish stocks.

Speaking at this week's plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences, he reiterated his guarded support for the sciences. He said again that he sees no conflict between science and religion, and that faith need not be threatened by scientific endeavour. Rather, he argued, science is part of God's plan.

As before, however, there was a caveat: scientists must know their limits.

"Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man's most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself," he said.

He argued that researchers have a moral obligation to accuracy as well as recognising their limitations.

"This means avoiding needlessly alarming predictions when these are not supported by sufficient data or exceed science's actual ability to predict. But it also means avoiding the opposite, namely a silence, born of fear, in the face of genuine problems," he said.

Few in the scientific community would disagree with that last statement, and his sentiments echo those of Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, decrying the trend of sensationalising science, particularly around climate change.

Hulme said in an interview with the BBC that "campaigners...politicians and scientists...are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions". ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.