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"The dichotomy: on the one hand, there is a strengthening of science and appreciation for scientists, but there is also a growing movement of disdain for science"

The incoming president of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences, Prof. David Harel, is trying to dispel this dichotomy. In a conversation with the science website, he explains that, among other things, he intends to reduce the gap between those who support science and those who despise it

Academy of Sciences president exchange ceremony at the president's house 14.11.21 Photo: Michal Fatal happy_2
Academy of Sciences president exchange ceremony at the president's house 14.11.21 Photo: Michal Fatal happy_2

In November 2021, the country's president Yitzhak Herzog submitted the appointment letter to the new president of the Israel National Academy of Sciences, Prof. David Harel, who previously served for six years as the deputy of the outgoing president, Prof. Nili Cohen. The two presidents referred to what is happening today in the field - the "skepticism" towards science. "We must fight these phenomena as well as false beliefs and false information concerning science, and strengthen rational-scientific thinking, based on facts and logic," said Prof. Harel. His words were also in line with the statement of President Herzog, who said in his speech "When we are in the midst of a shocking fake news attack, it is our duty to strengthen the scientific forces against those who try to undermine them and challenge them - and especially the corona deniers and the opponents of vaccines."

 In an interview with the Hidan site, Prof. Harel explains: "The dichotomy is very clear: on the one hand, there is a strengthening of science and an increasing appreciation for those involved in science because of crises such as the Corona epidemic and the climate crisis. More and more people understand that scientists do not just write formulas on the board or mix materials in the laboratory, but that what they do is important and can be critical to the life of each and every one of us and even to the future of the planet. This is how science is empowered among large sections of the public."

"On the other hand, empowerment also occurs in the opposite direction - of disdain for scientists, science, numbers, evidence, and rational thinking, and what intensifies is the distance between these two camps. This can be compared to the dichotomy between people who believe and the unbelievers, those who do not believe; between right and left and more. All these dichotomies are sharpening both in Israel and in the world. My main role as president of the Academy of Sciences is to take care of science, so the growing rift is worrying. Science occupies a more important place, but at the same time there is a considerable group that expresses loud disdain against the scientists and science."

Combining forces between the exact sciences and the social sciences and the humanities

 Professor Harel further adds: "As someone who heads an academy of sciences that also includes the humanities and social sciences, I emphasize this combination because a similar dichotomy also exists in the humanities and social sciences, although of a different nature. Over the years it becomes clear that knowledge and orientation in spiritual treasures and culture such as history, religions, literature, art and music are as important as fields in the natural sciences. But compared to the latter here there is more ignorance than contempt. There is a huge gap between those who say that the youth must be educated in non-scientific subjects as well, and a growing part of the youth who show a desperate lack of basic knowledge. When you try to talk to them about major issues in the social sciences and the humanities, they have no idea what it's about." 

 "I see my role as trying to reduce the gap in these dichotomies, to bring the general public and policy makers closer to science, and to understanding the importance of science, and this also in the natural sciences, both in the humanities and in the social sciences. And the second thing is to increase the visibility of the National Academy of Sciences. Many people who have heard about the appointment to the presidency of the Academy ask me what the position includes from a practical point of view. Even in the academic world itself there are people, including faculty members at higher education institutions, who think that the president of the Academy of Sciences is actually a kind of president-in-chief of all universities. Paraphrasing one of the poems of the night of Yom Kippur, it can be said that they think that at will the president of the academy raises one university and lowers another, at will grants funding to one and takes from another, and so on.

"That is not true at all. I am not the president of all universities. I head a body whose role according to law is to promote science and support it without reservation, to increase the visibility of science, to advise the government on matters of science and scientific planning, to create and maintain relationships with similar institutions abroad, and more and more.

"In recent months, for example, a multidisciplinary expert committee was established at the academy to examine the climate issue and a report dealing with marine science research was published. And these days the issue of food security is at the center of two of our important gatherings. The Academy provides the relevant decision-makers in the government and the Knesset with the results of these activities on an ongoing basis, including a three-year report on the state of science in Israel.

"This is what we do. And of course we must add to the academy as members the leaders in their fields from the variety of higher education institutions, people who represent the excellence of Israeli science in all its parts: natural and exact sciences, humanities and social sciences."

More of the topic in Hayadan:

13 תגובות

  1. Permafrost's Lemma (Permafrost's Lemma) Schalkemann disproves Asbar's claim regarding a variable π!

    Let us consider a group of circles in the Euclidean plane with a common center point and a common central angle whose lines, the rays, intersect all these circles.
    If the circles are "scattered" in a plane and do not have a common center - they can be copied to an arbitrary common center point using a compass and ruler(*).

    The rays of the common angle cut a sector or "slice" from each circle belonging to the group and an arc from each circle belonging to the group.

    All these "slices" are similar, but differ in a single parameter - the radius.
    The difference between them is only scaling.

    Anyone who observes the circles and circles members of the group in question immediately understands that due to the similarity, it immediately follows that the ratio between the different arcs on which the common central angle rests and the radii of the circles from which these arcs were respectively cut is constant. This ratio is, according to its definition, the central angle, no matter how big it is, and it is common and the same for everyone.

    Expanding the common angle and including it to the ratio of the full angle that extends from the center point leads to the conclusion that the ratio between the radii of the circles and the corresponding circumferences is constant, and it does not matter at all what the ratio of this constant is.

    (*) The ruler - for drawing straight lines only. Not to measure. There are no standard rulers in geometry.

  2. How does the distinguished professor explain the gagging of first-rate scientists who raise questions that challenge the main mainstream narrative?!

  3. I don't know what to do, but the science is unequivocal, and the countries that have done better are the ones that listened to the scientists. I know the limitations are uncomfortable, but from here to the threat to democracy is a long way. Those who threaten democracy are precisely those who incite distrust in science and countries.

  4. "War on corona deniers and vaccine opponents" is not "scientific power". This is exactly the approach that places science as a tool in the game of control and consciousness.

  5. It seems that the new president does not see the problem. The real problem is the sloppiness of using the concept of science in places that are soft science or no science at all. Of course, any link between the humanities and science harms science. The insistence on the connection between science and politics (such as the issue of climate science) harms science. Let's look at the example of the red stickers that the Ministry of Health puts on high salt products. Is there a sufficient scientific basis that links these foods to life expectancy? The answer is no. And when the issue is revealed, then people will say about everything (even when it is true) that the scientists cannot be trusted.

  6. Mathematics is knowledge based on agreements. The mathematical "truth" system is very rigid in accepting mathematical truth.
    Empirical science uses mathematical parameters to present discoveries and laws of nature.
    Science begins to sin against scientific truth when it gives validity to scientific theories and so-called presented as if it were scientific truth.
    This brings counter reactions from various parties.
    If the scientists recognize their limitations in such a way that they concentrate on empirical scientific truth and leave the theories to thinkers and philosophers and are not influenced by all kinds of agendas and interests, this can make humanity connect to science.
    In today's situation rightly a considerable part of scientific theories seem ridiculous mainly because they are disproved from within themselves and unfounded assumptions are added to complete the theory.
    In the matter of the clergy's struggle, science must declare that science has no tools to determine whether the world was created randomly or planned in advance by a master planner.
    It may be that it will connect the world to science and wide audiences will be added who will appreciate science

  7. The number is not 3.14 there are many more digits after the point if I'm not mistaken Wikipedia shows something like a thousand digits after the point!

  8. You care too much about what some conspiratorial people say.. It's okay if they don't believe in science, in the end they have a device in the palm of their hand that exists thanks to science, and they can take a shower, turn on the air conditioner, travel anywhere in the world, and even eat and not die of hunger, thanks to science. We do not do science for the respect of those people but for the development of the world

  9. The role of science is to investigate - not to control.

    The more dictatorial and communist a country is
    Thus the discourse that takes place in it (legal and political)
    Gives more weight to the word of "experts"
    And less weight to the word of the common man.

    The fight is not against science
    but against barbaric socialism.
    under free market conditions,
    Each person is allowed to choose for himself
    Which expert to hire and whom to consult
    and decides for himself if it suits him
    Adopt the advice or not.

    That's the difference.

  10. to the knowledge system
    Do not hesitate to publish my response, that there is false knowledge in mathematics that has been handed down from generation to generation for 2000 years.
    Here is the experiment that discovered the false knowledge

    A. Asbar

  11. Fake news exists in every human society, and also among human society
    engaged in exact science (mathematics, geometry, and physics)

    The physicists found the way to "dismiss false news"
    Physicists always put their ideas to the test of natural reality,
    And if this reality determines that the idea is wrong, then they correct themselves.

    The practical experiment conducted in natural physical reality is the final arbiter in the world of physicists, and everyone agreed to accept its ruling. An innovative practical experiment can invalidate a physical theory that has been accepted for many years, and in its place will come without hesitation a new theory.

    Therefore, it is no wonder that physics as a practical science is constantly changing, and following the changes it improves in understanding reality, and reaches wonderful practical achievements, which are currently on the border of science fiction.

    Whereas the mathematicians are not used to putting their ideas to the test of the practical experiment, and they are content with the test of their own logic. The mathematicians followed the path of pure reason and pure logic from the beginning, because they believed that reason and pure logic would lead them to the truth.

    It must be emphasized that the mathematicians determined by themselves what is pure logic and what is pure reason, and therefore they presented mathematics as a logical conceptual structure in which there are no mistakes, and it is impossible for there to be any mistakes.

    The mathematical practice never developed a natural review mechanism that exists in reality on its own, and mathematics checked itself, solely on its own.
    The physicists' natural review mechanism was the practical experiment, but the mathematicians had no such review mechanism.

    Therefore, a possibility was inevitably created here, that mathematical falsehoods would nest within mathematics for hundreds of years, and there would be no way to get rid of them. And why won't it be possible to eliminate? Because mathematics has already established in advance "that it is itself a conceptual structure that does not contain errors, and it is impossible for there to be errors"
    This is how all the conditions were created, for false news to nest within mathematics, perhaps forever.

    Here is an example of a mathematical falsehood that lasted 2000 years?
    There is a mathematical falsehood since the time of Archimedes, which states that a single number whose value is 3.14 is what allows the transition between the diameter of any circle (small or large) to the length of its circumference.

    There is no possibility to act against this false knowledge, because it is taught as real mathematical knowledge in schools and universities. This false information also appears as true information on Wikipedia, and can be found in any publication of the exact sciences. The number 3.14 is firmly rooted in the human consciousness, and it has a holiday on 14/3. Books have been written about this number 3.14, and it also appears in the movie.
    This number 3.14 also received the title "mathematical constant" and has a place of honor in mathematics studies.

    This false knowledge of the unique number 3.14 actually delayed the development of geometry, and it remained frozen and fossilized as in the time of Euclid.
    Why has the science of physics changed and developed amazingly over the last 2000 years, and the science of geometry remains as fossilized as in Euclid's time? Because the science of physics is a practical science that always puts itself to the test of physical reality, by actual experiments.
    Whereas the science of mathematics is a theoretical science, which examines itself, with the help of tests of logic and reason that it has established, when it holds the concept that it is impossible for there to be mistakes in mathematics.

    Thus the false knowledge of the number 3.14 nested in mathematics for 2000 years, and it will probably remain there forever.
    This false knowledge can be removed from mathematics, only in the way of the physicists, that is, in the way of an actual practical experiment.
    Such a way is immediately rejected by the mathematicians, because they determined that only by the way of reason and logic it is possible to talk with them.
    But in the way of reason and logic, the mathematicians have already established that there are no mistakes in mathematics, therefore there is no point and no need to propose a practical experiment, which should reveal that there is false knowledge, within mathematics.

    Therefore, mathematics itself prevents any possibility of removing false knowledge from it.

    The false knowledge of 3.14 could exist forever, but not forever.
    In 2017, the circumference experiment was conducted, and it proved that every real size of a circle has a unique transition number, which allows the transition between the length of the diameter and the length of the circumference. These transition numbers are in a narrow range, between 3.14 and 3.16

    The circumference experiment immediately led to an amazing development in geometry, and also removed the activity of mathematics from the geometric field of circles. It goes without saying that the mathematicians strongly oppose the change of their superior status, which oozes pure logic and superior wisdom - when they are seen in their own eyes, as heralds of the truth.

    A. Asbar

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