Mr Bowers had a huge brown beard, par for the course with Physics teachers back when I was doing my GCSE’s. The other thing I remember about Mr Bowers was how he connected science to the interests of unruly fifteen-year olds.
The lessons on electricity were my favourite. His method of making us remember what each of the coloured cables in a plug represented, was inspired. Touching a live brown wire would certainly make you say something relevant to its colour. However, allowing over 100,000 Volts to pass into my body via a Van de Graaff generator trusting nothing but his explanation, albeit using scientific evidence, was a step up even for me.
Last week, I was invited to talk in Parliament as part of Evidence Week, organised by Sense about Science. The purpose was to highlight the importance of using scientific evidence when creating legislation. There were people from a diverse range of interests; Bee Keeping and Allotments to Social enterprises and Healthcare. The fact that so many different aspects of our lives were represented, showed how science and evidence is being marginalised and even ignored across society and business.
It’s 2018, technology is steaming ahead but when it comes to listening to science, the resistance to evidence remains ‘the same as it ever was’. It’s right that science is challenged and questioned again and again, but to ignore evidence seems counter intuitive.
The cosmetics industry has backed off confronting some marketing claims around ingredients for many reasons, mainly money. I get it, I understand it’s a business. However, the products we sell, the actual stuff in the packaging is a combination of complex chemicals. Formulations have been and will always be 100% Chemical. Shying away from educating, informing and trusting our consumers simply doesn’t make any sense. Following the path we are currently on to its logical conclusion leads the industry down a rabbit hole, one where ‘Clean’ Beauty’ is seen as more important than scientific evidence, oh wait…
I’d like to think there is a middle ground where science and evidence is heard and the marketing departments can also do their important work in selling the products.
I did touch the Van de Graaf generator after stepping up onto a plastic stool. I let Mr Bowers switch it on and felt the 100,000 V flowing into my left arm. Why? Because, as Professor Richard Dawkins infamously put it, “Science works, bit***s”