Science, Business and Reality

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2019


Science, particularly hard sciences, are about describing the world we live in. In theory they should be tightly linked to reality so the descriptions are good ones, good in the sense that they predict well. In practice I find them not so much so, particularly as their results are described in traditional and social media. "Scientists say..." in a media article is a flag that what's coming next will sound comfortable, but not necessarily describe something that matches reality.

So... who meshes closely with reality? It turns out that business reporting -- in places such as Wall Street Journal -- seems to be much more consistent about reporting what's really happening in the real world around us.

Thinking about it, this is not too surprising. Business people have to make things happen in the real world. They are in constant contact with the real world and if they don't understand it well and don't respond well to it, they lose out to their competitors who do. Scientists and science reporters don't have this kind of real-world pressure on them, they have a different kind. Their pressure is to get funding, which requires inspiring fund givers. This is not the same kind of pressure as that faced by those who deal with day-to-day commerce.

So, if a science publication reports something one way and a business publication reports it another, I pay attention to the business publication first, and then keep a watch to see which one gets follow-up confirmations.



--The End--