June 17, 2008 13:29:55
Posted By Peter Bentley
When I wrote The Undercover Scientist I (perhaps naively) never thought in a million years I would get questions like this... But today I did. Here's how I responded (part 2).
4) Are you supersticious?
No. I am a scientist, so I require real evidence that something causes something else. When you apply the scientific method to most superstitions you find very little of substance. There are one or two exceptions - for example, walking under a ladder is, I suspect, more likely to expose you to danger of being hit by falling objects. But most are bad correlations between cause and effect that do not bear scrutiny. It is human nature to try and link one event with another, but science helps us discover what is really true and what is wishful thinking.
5) The Undercover Scientist has all the answers.... Now that you give to the people a scientific vision of the everyday mishaps…so the badluck exist?
Sometimes things don't go the way we want them to. You can call it bad luck, but this is life. We are often the cause of our own misfortune; sometimes it is random chance; sometimes it is caused by the malicious activities of a third party. But there is no mystical concept of luck - you cannot keep a bottle of good luck to drink when you're upset. If you want better luck, then you need to alter your own behaviour. The Undercover Scientist doesn't have all the answers (it would have to be a bigger book), but it does explain a huge number of interesting things that affect us and our technology, helping us to recover if things do go wrong, and helping to suggest ways of preventing future mishaps.