Scientists work hard to bridge the cultural divide

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bryan Appleyard's otherwise perceptive analysis of Britain's cultural problem with science and our failure in exploiting it for our economic benefit is not helped by repeating, yet again, his stereotyping of scientists themselves ('We can think. Now we must do', 26 May).

Even (in fact especially) among what he calls the campaigners, it is, in my experience, the rule rather than the exception that they perceive and practise the values of creative activity and emphasise the economic and spiritual need to bring our divided culture together.

Why else should Save British Science, for example, be campaigning for achieving exactly this, via fundamental reforms of our education system? It made broadening of sixth-form education to include both the arts and the sciences the first priority in its widely publicised policy paper Benchmarks for the Year 2000.

Appleyard is surely wrong also to accuse scientists, of all people, of cultivating long fingernails. Not many of those are to be found in Britain's chemical and pharmaceutical industries, one of the few areas where scientists are highly valued, and where the UK has achieved economic success.

Not many scientific fingernails either in the upper reaches of the rest of industry and the top posts in the Civil Service, for the simple reason that scientists are hardly ever appointed to these mandarin palaces.

Yours faithfully,

DENIS NOBLE

Burdon Sanderson Professor of

Cardiovascular Physiology

University of Oxford

Oxford

26 May

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