Money Well Spent

Science, you may have noticed, has been getting a bad press of late. Scientists losing raw data, scientists withholding data, scientists cherry-picking data, scientists torturing the evidence till it says what they want it to say, scientists acting more like political activists than scientists. And, of all the world’s media institutions, none has been quite so shameless in justifying, excusing or covering up this appalling behaviour than that supposed bastion of neutrality and authority, the BBC.

Still, the BBC can’t get everything wrong all the time, and its new series The Story of Science is a case in point. Within five minutes, the presenter Michael Mosley was at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II in 16th-century Prague, praising what he considered one of the most important advances in the entire history of science: Tycho Brahe’s painstaking astronomical observations, which ushered in an era of science based not merely on speculation, but also on scrupulously recorded data.

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