Professor Brian Cox says that everyone in the country should be able to understand what constitutes a scientific idea, and that doubling the number of Britons in higher education is an "affordable" ideal.
In an interview with Radio Times published on Tuesday he says: “Forty per cent of people go into higher education now. What if you double that? Including tuition fees, it would cost about £21 billion. That’s on a total government spend of £720 billion. How many Utopian visions are affordable? Well, this one is."
The particle physicist adds: “We’re in a democracy and quite rightly public policy should be democratically decided, but everybody needs to at least understand what it means to make scientific statements. I’m not saying that you have to be a scientist or an expert on everything, but you have to understand what weight to give the peer-reviewed scientific consensus. Otherwise you just get uninformed reaction.”
Citing the success stories of Alexander Flemming, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday and Frank Whittle, he says: “The idea that there’s nothing left to discover is nonsense.”
“Nobody’s saying science is perfect or that it’s always right, but people need to understand it’s the best method we have [of acquiring and using knowledge].”
See Science Britannica, Wednesday, 9:00pm, BBC2 and read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine.