Antiscience: Defend real science in the Balkans

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
547,
Page:
32
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/547032e
Published online

Antiscience and pseudoscience seem to be rife in some nations of the former Yugoslavia, and have potentially harmful consequences. As one of the few science journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I urge the region's researchers to speak out and boost the international scientific standing of their countries.

A worrying instance of antiscience is the widely publicized petition organized in Serbia in May (see Nature 545, 138139; 2017). Signed by engineers, physicians and other academics, it calls for schools and universities to teach 'alternative theories' of evolution such as intelligent design and creationism. The organizers back their cause with claims that evolution is now being discredited by “more and more famous scientists” worldwide.

In my view, this petition is a scientific humiliation for Serbia. Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina also have advocates of intelligent design. Those who disagree will not speak up, fearing retribution and public outcry. Lift this shameful silence so that the region's science can flourish again.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    • Jelena Kalinić

Corresponding author

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Comments

  1. Report this comment #70267

    Har Katcher said:

    In an age of 'fake news' where the words of a celebrity or politician are worth more than those of experts, 'fake science' is bound to gain credence, if it supports an 'agenda'. What value does science have in a post-truth world? We must not allow that to happen, we have to fight it every step of the way. Why? Because we must base our decisions on reality, anything else leads to tragedy. Remember how the people of Easter Island listened to the voice of fear to use all their island's resources to imagine they were protecting themselves from invasion by making stone gods to guard the island, denuding the island in doing so, and going from living as rich and comfortable people to bare subsistence or less.

  2. Report this comment #70273

    Torbjörn Larsson said:

    I agree, but see the concept of "post-truth" as opposed to facts as admitting too much opinion.

    Ironically the Easter Island des cription above is one hypothesis among others and what I can see (not being an archaeologist) has been rejected more and more by data. Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo found evidence for rat seed eating and European disease among causes for deforestation and population crashes 2006 [ https://www.livescience.com/616-view-easter-island-disaster-wrong-researchers.html ]. Carl Lipo returned 2016 with archaeological data on presumed conflict evidence being erroneous [ http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-evidence-finds-that-easter-island-wasnt-destroyed-war-after-all-180958159/ ]. And the same year the island pollen record was used to show that deforestation was gradual, consistent with the 2006 data [ http://blog.creaf.cat/en/noticies-en/deforestation-of-easter-island-was-gradual-and-due-to-more-factors-than-just-human-pressure/ ]:

    "?This puts into question the classic interpretations of cultural decay and ecological degradation attributable only to human causes,? says Valentín Rull, ICTJA-CSIC researcher and first author of the study, adding ?it seems that a long and gradual succession of interrelated climatic, ecological and cultural changes have led to the current situation?."

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