“We cannot allow scientific knowledge to be part of the partisan debate” – CVBJ

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05/11/2021 at 12:00 CET

Marie Doctor

At a time when conspiracy theories abound and “fake news” rages on the Internet, transmitting to our children the importance of the scientific method is essential. The mathematician and popularizer Eduardo Sáez de Cabezón will talk about it during the “Educar es todo” event. We discuss with him so that he offers us an “aperitif” of what his presentation will be.

The title of your presentation is “Vive la science”, and I add: “this year more than ever”. Are we really aware of what has been accomplished by achieving a vaccine in record time?

We are not yet. What scientists have done this year is unprecedented and is the result of an effort that has three characteristics that made it possible: 1) It is based on a multi-year effort on coronaviruses and messenger RNA vaccines . It is not something that came out of nowhere. Basic science is already trying to answer questions and problems that we don’t yet have, and this was an example. 2) There was unprecedented coordination. From the start, teams from all over the world were coordinated, information was shared, collaboration platforms were generated and it allowed us to have a vaccine so quickly. 3) The fact that COVID-19 has affected so many people and has been so present has made it possible to do massive clinical trials very quickly, which is usually the bottleneck in vaccine and drug development. We are still not aware of the importance of what happened because we are still sad and afraid in our bodies, but when we look back we will realize the importance of this year and a half in scientific development. .

Eduardo, why do you think there are still so many skeptics? People who continue to doubt science… Is there a need for more outreach work, like the one you do on your YouTube channel and on the Órbita Laika TV show?

The reasons are many and varied. There are of course personal reasons, a history of frustrations or disillusionment with the “system” of many people who have therefore been disconnected from the speeches they call “official” and are more at the mercy of these. conspiracy theories than them. they make them have a place where they feel more assertive. But there are also structural reasons, sometimes we do not translate well the importance of scientific knowledge and development, we do not have a sufficiently attractive narrative to allow the population to align more easily with the scientific discourse. , which is of utmost importance.

Poster of the ‘Educar es todo’ event to be held in Madrid on November 13 |

What is the role of mothers and fathers in everything related to “fake news”, to the circulation of conspiracy theories? How to keep our children away from all this, knowing that the information circulating on the Internet is uncontrollable?

We have to learn to read the news and information and we have to help our children to do it. It is not obvious since everything that comes to us is true. Being able to verify the veracity of information is something we can learn, which is not easy, but it is not difficult either. For example, from FECYT, campaigns and guides have been launched to help us do this. We are all exposed to being the victims of fake news, it is very important to train ourselves to detect it and, above all (and above all), not to disseminate it.

“We are all at risk of falling victim to fake news, it is very important to train ourselves to detect it and to teach our children to do so”

Eduardo Sáez de Cabezón

Mathematician and popularizer

You’re a mathematician, and the data tells us there are a number of kids out there who don’t understand math, what’s wrong? Could it be the education system?

The mathematics education system in almost every country in the world is constantly evolving and we are learning more and more about the importance of giving context to mathematical concepts. A long time ago, we felt that math started and ended in math class. Fortunately, today we have a lot more math in the social conversation. So while we still have a long way to go, math education is in a process of obvious improvement. Right now, we cannot afford a generation indifferent to mathematics.

There is another problem, and that is that there are hardly any women in STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) careers.. What could we do to reverse the situation?

It is a subject with many faces. For me, the important thing is that we promote a social and academic environment in which all people choose without prejudices, without extrinsic tendencies. There is a clear deficit of women in STEM professions and there is a clear deficit of men in the most care-related professions. We have to make an effort so that what appears to be a trend can change, and we can. There is a lot of effort in this direction, and although it is difficult to quantify its effects, it is good that an environment of freedom is generated in the choice of career which, although it seems totally free, in in reality, it still carries inertias that come from afar. .

“There is a clear deficit of women in STEM professions and there is a clear deficit of men in more care-related professions. We must make efforts to change this, which seems to be a trend ”.

Eduardo Sáez de Cabezón

Mathematician and popularizer

What is the main message you want to send with your presentation?

This science must be part of that common ground on which we can all work together. That we cannot afford, as a society, for scientific knowledge to be part of the identity or partisan debate.

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