Most people — experts included — seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption.
Pinterest Rockefeller brothers gather to receive gold medals from the National Institute of Social Sciences, in Ideas come and go, depending on what new research tells us. No single publication can be taken as fact in isolation; understanding scientific context is key.
This is especially true of research into human biology and behaviour, which is complex and particularly susceptible to bias.
Bad science routinely slips through the cracks. Occasionally it rips open a gaping chasm. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, eugenicists in Europe and the United States convinced universities and funding bodies — including the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation — that there are distinct human races, some of them weaker than others.
They enjoyed enormous support from those who longed for scientific evidence to shore up their dangerous political aims. In the s, once millions of lives had already been destroyed, a conscious universal effort was made to shelve the shoddy science of race. But what have we learned from this tragic episode?
Today, it seems very little. Weak scientific evidence and empty theories are still being used to support troubling ideologies. Women are making enormous strides in science and engineering — yet, with some half-cocked hypotheses in their back pockets, male software engineers feel they have the right to tell them they are somehow biologically unsuited to this kind of work.
Ada Lovelace designed a computer in the s.
Women began to be marginalised in technology around the time that personal computing took off and become a lucrative industry. Male software engineers forget that discrimination and sexual harassment have driven women out of Silicon Valley, and kept countless more out in the first place.
The myriad historical, cultural and social factors that create inequality are all too easily glossed over when someone reaches for the closest, most convenient biological explanation for what they see.
Scientists must take some responsibility for the political implications of their work. But we all, as consumers of information, need to be more critical in our reading of science, and more careful about what we think it tells us.
He is absolutely correct.
Those who want to use science to support their views — especially if they seek to undermine equality efforts in the workplace — must make an effort to fully inform themselves about the science of human nature.
Angela Saini is a science journalist and broadcaster.
Her latest book is Inferior:Search CareerBuilder for Telecommute Jobs and browse our platform. Apply now for jobs that are hiring near you.
Dorinda is the African Australian Woman of the Year Award Winner. A foremost African in media, television, advertising, celebrity chef, entertainer, public speaker, marriage celebrant, author of 7 books and most celebrated African in South Australia and in Australia. I loved working in journalism and it was certainly a very emotional decision to leave, but I figured the writing was on the wall and it would be easier to learn a new profession in my 40s than in my 50s.
Frequently in my early teaching career, I taught a computer literacy course. In this course I taught my student that a computer is a machine for the input, storage, processing, and output of information.
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