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Discovery - What Scientists Believe - Episode 3


Modern science is extremely complex, and it makes huge demands on scientists. Like people in any walk of life, scientists are infinitely varied human beings. But all of them are expected to conform to the rules and regulations required by scientific investigation. Stephen Webster is a Philosopher of Science at Imperial College London. He wants to know how an individual scientist's personal, psychological and intellectual qualities map onto their chosen area of science. How much of a scientist’s personality is reflected in their work? Should subjective private beliefs be a part of objective scientific outcomes? What happens if tensions develop between a scientist's beliefs and the formal demands of science? If tensions arise, how should they best be resolved? In this series of three programmes, Stephen talks to six scientists about themselves and about their scientific work. In the final programme, Stephen meets zoologist Andrew Gosler. For more than twenty-five years, Andrew has been studying the Great Tit population in Wytham Wood near Oxford in southern England. Andrew greatly respects the animals he studies and the environment they inhabit. He finds inspiration working so closely with nature, and that inspiration motivates his scientific enquiries. But Andrew also knows that scientific description can only ever provide a partial description of reality. Science will never encapsulate Andrew’s own, private and unique relationship with the world he studies.