Thoughts on Chemistry and Scientific Truth in Post-Factual Times

Thoughts on Chemistry and Scientific Truth in Post-Factual Times

Author: Jonathan Faiz

2017 marked the 150th anniversary of founding of the predecessor society of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh; German Chemical Society) and the 100th anniversary of the death of Adolf von Baeyer, University of Berlin, Germany, who founded the society.

As Peter R. Schreiner, University of Gießen, Germany, points out in his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, von Baeyer was not only interested in chemistry, but also in science and society, the future of chemistry, and university education. These themes are just as important today, and Schreiner believes that chemists do not have the visibility and recognition that reflects the important societal issues that they work on.

He is also of the opinion that the creation of uniform teaching programs (e.g., after the Bologna Reform in Europe) has emphasized the learning of theoretical knowledge at the expense of practical training required to tackle problems. He reminds us that scientists who can think critically are essential for society.

Science is concerned with seeking for truth, and Peter Schreiner is concerned that attempts, frequently by politicians, to make decisions without facts and analysis are undermining the purpose of science. Finally, Schreiner is also concerned that authors often exaggerate their results for scientific publication, and that the short messages favored by social media are marginalizing the detailed work and great effort that are put into scientific discovery.


 

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