A matter of trust: #03
Updated: Sep 23
You leave the house. It’s a grey, overcast, but humid afternoon.
You are in your hometown for the first time in months.
You meander through the streets. As you silently police the people around you and their social distancing etiquette, you are approached by a tall man.
After some small talk he requests permission to ask you a few questions. You are in no rush, so you say: ‘Yeah sure, why not?’
‘Are you scientific in any way?’ the man asks. ‘Would you say you understood science?’
You attempt to recall something basic. All you can think of are things you’ve seen on TV recently, or the broad Scottish accent of your year 6 science teacher.
‘I have a basic understanding of science’ you say.
Hearing your answer, the man seems interested. He nods in agreement before declaring that he is going to get straight to the point.
‘Do you trust your own senses?’ he asks.
‘Yes’. You respond without deliberation.
‘Would you trust your own senses then, over an image say?’
‘What do you mean exactly?’ you respond.
‘If I showed you an image of the Loch Ness Monster would you consider that to be a scientific fact?’
You say nothing, but you are shaking your head to communicate a ‘no’.
‘What if I showed you a picture of a Unicorn would you consider that to be a scientific fact?’
You bury your hands deep into your pockets. You stop shaking your head. You say nothing.
After a short pause the man asks: ‘Do you think we live on a globe? Do you think we live on a round ball shaped planet?’
Taking a deep breath, you sigh a little. The man stairs at you eagerly.
‘Yes’ you answer, ‘of course’.
‘Could you prove that to me right now?’ the man asks.
‘What, off the top of my head?’ you ask.
'Yes, if you can' the man responds.
‘Well, it’s what we were taught in school. It makes sense doesn't it? I mean why would people lie about it?’
Ignoring your question, the man moves the conversation on by asking another of his own:
‘What shape is the horizon when you look at it?’
‘Well, it depends’ you say.
‘It depends on what?’
‘Well, when i'm on an airplane it looks round’
‘You think so?’ the man asks.
‘Yeah’ you say, recalling the window view from the budget flight you took not so long ago.
‘Well would it surprise you then’, the man proudly asserts, ‘that an average commercial airline travels at around seven miles up, and mainstream science tells us you need to be beyond fifty miles up to see any curvature?’.
‘Hmph’ you murmur questionably, whilst tapping your fingers against the phone in your pocket.
‘I could show you some stuff on my phone, on the internet?’ you say.
‘No’ the man responds, ‘could you offer some science maybe, without showing me an image?'
' … could you do that?’