NotPostfactual

Years ago, when we first wrote our little press kit that we give to prospective guests to tell them about omega tau, I wrote the following sentences:

[..] We also know that science and engineering do not have a very good reputation in modern (western) societies. Science is often considered boring, sometimes even unnecessary or dangerous. Public interest is correspondingly low, especially in younger people – with negative long-term consequences. omega tau is our small attempt at improving this situation by discussing scientific and technical topics – and the people behind them – in detail, illustrating their relevance to today’s society. [..]

The situation I described in these sentences has obviously gotten much worse. It’s not just a few conspiracy theorists that claim the weirdest things; twisting facts and ignoring scientific findings has become acceptable for substantial parts of society. I think this is a serious problem, and I am sure, as a listener of omega tau, you agree. We can see some of the consequences of this trend all over our world.

I am not one of these people who attaches “science” to everything to make it sound more impressive, a trend I have observed in recent years. I think this degrades actual science. I have also been involved with enough (computer) science to realize that the processes science relies on, such as peer review, are not perfect. I don’t believe in science by majority, and some of my own publications go against the accepted wisdom (in my field of language engineering). However, if you want to go against the mainstream, you have to provide really good arguments and evidence for your position. The “majority” is obliged to consider it carefully (and they don’t always do!), but you cannot just ignore, twist, or just plain lie about the currently most accepted (by experimental results) theory or even discard the (idealized) scientific process altogether (you should rant about unfair reviews, though :-)).

Long story short: I think that outlets such as omega tau — and we are of course not the only one! — are becoming more and more important. Explaining technical and scientific facs, and, more importantly, explain how and why we know them as facts, is crucial. Of course, there’s a chance that we are preaching to the choir, only reaching those people who are not “infected” by pseudo-science and propaganda bullshit anyway. But we will continue with “our small attempt at improving this situation”.