Letter: While Willie promotes, his 'wicked goblin' denigrates

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bryan Appleyard ('Willie and his wicked goblin', 23 March) is suffering from a folie de grandeur. He can take no credit for Science Week; no sane scientist thinks that he is an agent for the Tory Government.

Like William Waldegrave, Mr Appleyard is not a scientist, but their attitudes could not be more different. Mr Waldegrave, to his enormous credit, is the first minister in a long time to have taken a real interest in science.

His address to the Royal Institution promoted the idea that science is an integral part of our culture. He also pointed out that some of those who seem, in my experience, to have the clearest perception of moral values and the most lucid spiritual beliefs, have been among the great scientists I have had the luck to know. Indeed, they very often seem to me more effective upholders of the social and moral order, and more receptive of beauty in art and nature, than many who spend their lives explicitly defending these allegedly non-scientific values.

No wonder Mr Appleyard is so hostile, for, by contrast, he consistently denigrates science, apparently because it does not provide him with moral certitude. But science is about understanding, not about moral values.

Mr Appleyard is not remotely interested in science education, but he does his best to discourage both the public at large and the young from taking an interest in science. He sees National Science Week as footling. I see it as a very positive step in making the public and science more at ease with one another.

Yours truly,


Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology

University College and Middlesex School of Medicine

London, W1

23 March