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What do they mean by "the science"?

(36 Posts)
BeforeIPutOnMyMakeup Mon 18-May-20 22:36:03

I've wondered about this for weeks as I have degrees in various types of science, but what does the government mean when they say "the science"?

Do they mean political science? Or is it another social science? Or is it the science Scientologists believe in? Or it simply pseudo-science?

I've written this because I've just read a thread about terms that come from the lockdown but some of the terms are not defined.

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Mon 18-May-20 22:45:32

I think they mean what their various scientific advisors are telling them... so real science. Which of course develops in the light of new evidence and isn't perfect, and then there's the question as to whether the politicians understand it properly - I've no idea what their scientific literacy really is.

RigaBalsam Mon 18-May-20 23:03:26

Brian cox has said a bit about this.

electrichedgehog Tue 19-May-20 00:22:29

I think the UK government's official definition of 'the science' is something along the lines of: "Any facts, theories, or vague notions (preferably explained using really long words so they sound all technical, and ideally in chart or graph form with lots of colours) which support, vaguely support, or can be reworded to support whatever we feel like doing this week put forward by a member of SAGE, a person who's not a member of SAGE but would like to be, any person who works for a university or in the medical profession, Dominic Cummings, any person who thinks they know as much as someone who works in a university or in the medical profession, social scientists, psychologists, food scientists, astral aura readers, and the daily mail."

BeforeIPutOnMyMakeup Tue 19-May-20 01:07:22

@electrichedgehog grin

@ErrolTheDragon what do you mean by "real science"? After all there is an academic discipline called "political science" which certain SPADs seem very knowledgeable in.

OP’s posts: |
Daffodil101 Tue 19-May-20 01:10:32

Popular science.

Julie from Asda isn’t sending her kids to school cos it’s not safe. I like the way she slices bacon, so my kids aren’t going back.

Mumoftwo0357 Tue 19-May-20 01:13:20

It seems to be ... the science that fits our agenda. Or perhaps the science from Dominic Cummings dressed up as a doctor. Who knows. It’s an illogical populist phrase designed to deflect blame. Science just doesn’t work like that.

Daffodil101 Tue 19-May-20 01:15:18

I think the unions have a science that goes x+z=Whatever we think

BeetrootRocks Tue 19-May-20 01:18:47

'the science' sounds good and we can cherry pick things that support our approach.

Interesting as didn't they say people were tired of 'experts' during Brexit?

It suits their agenda and sounds impressive. Nothing to do with science. Everything to do with politics.

Daffodil101 Tue 19-May-20 01:20:58

Yes but so is the union response. It’s a two way street.

Would have been so interesting to have had a labour government trying (needing) to open the economy.

Namenic Tue 19-May-20 02:16:48

I think this is one of the misonomers - science being perceived as objective. I think it can be polarized and personal and the journal/lab/funding system has problems.

There are scientists that do not agree with UK handling of corona as well as those supporting the govt. I guess being scientifically literate with background knowledge means that you can more reliably spot which studies will be shown to be ‘correct’ in the long term.

I guess there is also the concept of strategy: what to do when there is uncertainty, choosing a path which closes fewer doors in the future, choosing between different costs/benefits. This can’t be done scientifically because it depends partly on priorities.

CloudsCanLookLikeSheep Tue 19-May-20 02:20:20

All the scientists do is advise the government.
Very easy to pick the 'science' that fits the policy decision you wanted to make anyway.

Topseyt Tue 19-May-20 03:47:28

They never really explain it. They are always just "following the science" or won't be doing something until "the science" apparently indicates that it is safe to do so.

It always seems nebulous to me. I suspect it is just an attempt by the government to make themselves sound intelligent.

twinnywinny14 Tue 19-May-20 03:55:05

The science of this country that is so different to WHO or other countries. Oh but that’s because the politicians pick the science to suit what they want, the SAGe committee is not impartial and is influenced by the government

Pixxie7 Tue 19-May-20 04:55:23

You would like to think that it’s information gained through research but I don’t think this can be the case as there hasn’t been time for any in-depth scientific research. It’s seem to be based on hypothesis. So not really scientific at all.

PicsInRed Tue 19-May-20 07:12:23

Its being used the way following The Scripture used to be used. It is seen as the preserve of the "good" and to fail to adhere is attacked as "bad".

I too think that trust in science will be damaged by the way it has been misused here with ever changing advice and opinions - and just due to changes to research or information but for political expediency.

And therein lies the problem. Science has become as politicised as religions are at their end.

Irnbroothenoo Tue 19-May-20 07:20:27

The science is the exact same science Labour would have used if they hadn’t got trounced at the election.

Guacamole Tue 19-May-20 07:23:24

I wish they’d just say the current evidence or following current scientific and medical advice or following modelling or simulation.

Yangshanpo Tue 19-May-20 07:24:36


RozaDiPoza Tue 19-May-20 07:26:42

Mystic mog dog wagging tail left for yes right for no.

MRex Tue 19-May-20 07:49:15

Science isn't a cohesive static set of incontrovertible data, it has some known facts (# hospital admissions and available beds, test results, percentage public transport use compared to normal) and otherwise relies on modelling (expected R values, distribution of positive/ negative tests) and other times hypotheses (how far away from someone for the disease to spread, projections of percentage of people expected to follow rules). It is used as an indication that the government is taking decisions based on evolving information about the evidence and outcomes rather than according to a predefined plan that says "After 4 weeks do X".

As PP says, is the exact same information that any UK government would have been given. The government then has to decide from this range of information what steps to take next; SAGE will have given opinions and might not all agree. There is no single correct path that's clearly defined with the government stubbornly refusing to follow it by keeping kids off school or trying to send them back, whichever you think is the wrong answer.

Ifailed Tue 19-May-20 07:56:15

I'm afraid for a lot of people "science" was something they were forced to do at school, and involved watching videos of someone else doing "science", occasionally the teacher would do some "science", and all the pupils had to wear protective goggles.

This is the impression I got from my two sons, anyway.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 19-May-20 08:24:30

@BeforeIPutOnMyMakeup - the dictionary definition will do:

'the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.'

So... biology, epidemiology.

Not 'political science' , or 'Christian science' or whatever-with-the-word-science appended.

I think the government do mean science, but unfortunately afaik none of them are scientists so perhaps mistake it for magic...

* The science of this country that is so different to WHO or other countries.*

How is it 'so different' ... and different from which countries?
There have been many different political and practical responses to (afaik) the same information. Only time will tell who chose the wisest course. I don't for a moment think that will turn out to the U.K. government. But a lot of what a government chooses to do is related to its people, what they will adhere to. China could essentially do what it wanted; democratic countries without a large army not so much.

LittleLight42 Tue 19-May-20 08:27:51

This is an interesting read about following the science:

BackInTime Tue 19-May-20 08:32:30

I've often wondered this, especially the science that's said one week that large gatherings like Cheltenham were very low risk and the next week they said going for a walk or the park was fraught with danger unless you stayed 2m away from other humans.

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