Is science sometimes in danger of getting tunnel vision? Recently published ebook author, Ian Miller, looks at other possible theories arising from data that we think we understand. Can looking problems in a different light give scientists a different perspective?

Brexit Procedure

Far away, on the other side of this planet (in New Zealand, to be precise) we have watched the Brexit issue with a sort of stunned puzzlement. Why on Earth did this happen? And more to the point, now it has happened, why is it unclear what to do next? Even when trying an experiment, my view is you think out what you expect to happen, what you have to do to make it happen, then you try. It does not always work out correctly, because sometimes the molecules decide to be perverse, but I can't recall ever doing an experiment where I did not know what I wanted from it.
With Brexit, it seems the opposite has happened. Britain did it, and the question now is, now what? All of which raises an interesting question for the scientific community: you are trained to ask questions relating to procedure, so why did nobody or no organization stand up and demand to know from those advocating exiting what the consequences of exiting were? Why is it that that a vote was organized, but nobody knew the pros and cons of each position? Why is an informed vote something to be avoided?
All of which raises the question, where now for UK science? Presumably it will be out of major EU projects, although in principle there is no reason why that aspect of cooperation with the EU cannot continue. Perhaps the biggest single problem is immigration. Restricting immigration from the East seems to have been a major reason why the exit vote won, but when Switzerland as an associate began to impose immigration restrictions, it had that status suspended from Horizon 2020. The EU has to remain consistent, and since immigration was a major cause of the vote, the UK government is effectively ignoring the voters if it goes back on that. Chemists may feel that such ejection is no bad thing because chemistry mainly avoids big projects. It is physics that has the LHC, and ESA. I would hope that that sort of attitude is voided, and chemists, and the RSC, start lobbying for science as a whole, and not an insulated part.
Posted by Ian Miller on Jul 11, 2016 4:13 AM Europe/London

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