Saturday, 25 September 2010

Throw away remarks...

A day or two ago I caught a fascinating interview on BBC World Service in a programme called. Sadly, I missed the name of the scientist and of the show which I think was "The Interview." I'm glad I watched though, the interviewee was an eminent astro-physicist, a true scientist and a gentleman through and through. The interviewer tried to draw him into the latest controversy stirred by Stephen Hawking with his anti-God remarks and the old boy refused to be drawn - But he did enter the politest and most devastating riposte to it I have ever been privileged to hear.

He said: "I have known Stephen for over 40 years and he is a great scientist. He has made an enormous contribution in his field - but he has no expertise in natural philosophy and probably less in theology. I wouldn't place to much credence on his pronouncements in either of those subjects."

Having firmly and politely slammed that door in the interviewers face he dealt with Hawking's other contentious statement - that the book and his work on "M-Theory" would bring the end of science in an equally balanced and gentle manner.

"I doubt very much that the human mind will ever be capable of understanding everything. While Stephen's work in this field may well close this branch of research it will have no impact at all on the biological sciences and many other branches. I think he is being humorous and having a little joke at the expense of other sciences"

The interviewer struggled, as has become the modus operandi of BBC interviewers over recent years, to introduce something contentious or damaging - and was consistently put in his place with perfect politeness and perfectly sound answers to every question. It was wonderful to watch. If only all the members of the UK's scientific community behaved with such restraint and politeness.

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