Letter: Scientific rationalism harms, as well as helps, our world

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The Independent Online
Sir: Steve Connor's contention that 'the rationalism of science is . . . the only thing that separates us from the abyss of fear . . . that was the Dark Ages' should not go unchallenged. Science does not have a monopoly on rationalism, and it is not always rational. The cultural identity of the researcher will always colour the questions asked and the way in which the data is interpreted.

In addition to the manifold benefits it has given society, science has also defended racism, sexism and colonisation; social Darwinism is only one example of destructive science.

Science has added immeasurably to our fears - this week alone has seen worry about North Korea's nuclear threat, photochemical smog and video nasties.

Finally, given the term 'Dark Ages', how do you know what the levels of fear were?

Let us see science for what it is: a socially constituted body of knowledge that has changed our lives for good and evil, but not a pure, morally and socially neutral deity.

Yours sincerely,

SUSAN MAYHEW

Oxford

14 July

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