Geneticist denies that science is enemy of culture: The British Association for the Advancement of Science opens its annual meeting today. Susan Watts spoke to the association's president

ONE OF Britain's leading geneticists has dismissed as 'nonsense' what she believes is a media fascination with attacking science as an irrelevant, culturally diminishing pastime.

Anne McLaren, of Cambridge University, was fiercely critical of such anti-science dogma in the run-up to Britain's largest annual science meeting, beginning today in Loughborough.

Dr McLaren is president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The association is hosting this week's meeting - a public celebration of science, which this year takes as its title 'Science in the World Around Us'.

She rubbished the view that scientific pursuit is destroying our culture. 'It's a lot of nonsense. You don't destroy the mystery of a rainbow by understanding the light processes that form it.'

Dr McLaren, who works at the Wellcome/Cancer Research Campaign Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology, said scientific research made life and the natural world more interesting. Astronomy was far more fascinating today than it was when it consisted only of looking directly at the stars.

'Black holes and comets crashing into planets make front-page news these days. Science has not destroyed people's interest in the stars, it has accentuated it. Every question you ask raises more questions.'

She looked forward to a time when people would study science at university because they found it interesting, not just because they wanted to pursue a career in the subject. Dr McLaren welcomes public criticism of the way science is carried out, and in some cases of the people involved. She said the BBC's recent series Heretics on scientists as mavericks had done little to damage the image of science. 'If one said one didn't want such a debate, that would only reinforce the idea that scientists' minds are closed.'

This week's meeting has attracted hundreds of the nation's leading scientists and engineers, from academia and industry. Between 5,000 and 6,000 young people have also registered for the youth section of the event.

The main meeting covers subjects ranging from drugs in sport to market forces in the NHS.

Rules and rituals in science education are destroying children's ability to understand how best to tackle problems, according to tests on primary and secondary school pupils.

The results, published today, indicate that children are being taught to follow rigid procedures in practical science experiments, rather than to understand the scientific method that lies behind them, according to Richard Gott, of the University of Durham and Robin Millar, of the University of York.

Their research concludes that pupils risk missing the chance to develop the ideas necessary to criticise and debate science and technology related issues.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
voicesBy the man who has
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?