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Science and Dissent

  • Robert L. Bernstein (a1)
Abstract

Reading C.P. Snow’s 1959 lecture, ‘Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution’ in 2017, I was struck by the ways in which the essay, written over half a century ago, addresses issues that I’ve been engaged with for most of my life. Snow defined a world of cultures split between: ‘Literary intellectuals at one pole, at the other scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension, sometimes hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding.’ I’ve encountered this lack of understanding in my own profession and in public life. But it was Snow’s closing argument that really grabbed my attention: he proposed to his Cambridge audience that they had ‘better look at education with a fresh eye’ and that there was a ‘good deal to learn from the Russians’. Not really. If, as Snow proposed, ‘Scientists have the future in their bones’, we’d all do better to respond to the cool reason of dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and Anatol Sharansky and to recognize the ultimate power of free speech, which only exists in a free society.

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Copyright
References
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1. Sakharov, A.D. (1974) Progress, co-existence and intellectual freedom. In Sakharov Speaks (New York: Alfred A Knopf), pp. 58–59.
2. Anon (2007) Boycotting universities: Slamming Israel, giving Palestinians a free pass. The Economist, 14(June), p. 68.
3. Davies, E.B. (2006) Royal Society opposes academic boycott of Israeli scientists. http://www.mth.kcl.ac.uk/staff/eb_davies/boycott.doc (accessed 2006).
4. Sharansky, N. (2008) Defending identity. Public Affairs, pp. 9293.
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European Review
  • ISSN: 1062-7987
  • EISSN: 1474-0575
  • URL: /core/journals/european-review
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