Debating Society: Is Scientific Ignorance a Threat to Humanity?
Postponed in its return by mock exams and progress tests, the Sixth Form Debating Society was resuscitated today as Daisy Molesworth and Lora Bozhkova proposed the following motion, with opposition being voiced through the speeches of Josh Shuttleworth and Joe Bethell of BS:
This house believes that ignorance of science is the greatest threat to the world
The girls’ arguments centred around the risk posed by climate change and how belittling the dangers, as is becoming increasingly commonplace, can only have disastrous consequences. Citing the fact that only 1 in 6 MPs specialise in science, Lora highlighted how politicians “seeking to please the people” could put the world at risk. Likewise, Daisy condemned what she perceived to be an ignorance in the US education system, which allows children to be taught creationism. By failing to thoroughly education society of how insecure the future is and castigating politicians on both sides of the Atlantic for their pragmatism, they presented scientific inquiry as a possible solution to crises.
By way of contrast, Josh pointed to other sources of danger, in particular the instability of governments in Syria and Ukraine. He said the true threats “were those we so commonly ignore” and urged the audience to consider how radical Islam and terrorism represent more significant immediate problems than those emanating from global warming. Adding to their line of argument, Joe discussed how nuclear weapons and the human curiosity that has led to their deployment signify how “science is used to slaughter our children.” Especially shocking was the fact that “160 million were killed in the 20th century alone” due to genocide and wars, which technological advances have arguably facilitated. The BS team seemed unified in delivering a message that rather than being the magic cure, science has demonstrated its destructive potential.
As is customary, the debate was concluded by questions from the floor. Mr. Bonds made a noteworthy contribution, interrogating the proposition as to the morality of creating atomic weaponry. In a typically eloquent explanation, he accepted that in the past, the immense devastation caused by unleashing nuclear bombs was unjustified and so asked if they were comfortable with scientists using their knowledge to create a weapon which could deal equal damage, only to a smaller area. Sidestepping the question slightly, Daisy countered the Bonds-proposal with optimism regarding science’s ability to counteract famines and disease.
In the end, the motion carried by 43 votes to 12 with 2 abstentions (BSG victory) although the admirable loyalty of Year 12 BSGers in support of their team explains the crushing margin.