A Banned Broadcast and Other Essays

JBS Haldane

Chatto and Windus: London, 1946.

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Most of the essays here reprinted were first published in the Daily Worker, for which I write a weekly article on some scientific topic. The five on dialectical materialism were published in the Labour Monthly. “I was a Biometrician”, and “The Universe gets less Mysterious” appeared in the New Statesman, “The Laws of Nature”, “Cleomenes and Christ”, and “The Argument from Design” in the Rationalist Annual, and “How to write a Popular Scientific Article” in the Journal of the Association of Scientific Workers. The places of publication of others are acknowledged in the body of the book. They cover a wide period of time, and some of them are no longer topical. I hope, for example, that the article on “Air Raid Noises” will be wholly out of date by the time this book is published. I have changed my opinions since some of them were written. If I had not this would merely prove that I had ceased to learn from experience. I have also made some mistakes as to what was likely to happen. It would obviously have been unfair to correct them after the event.

But even when air raids are no more than an unpleasant memory, they will furnish a more vivid exposition of some of the principles of probability than does the drawing of black-and-white balls from bags. And though Lord Birkenhead is dead, it is worth pointing out that a Lord Chancellor can be dishonest.

If some readers complain that I have not covered so wide a field as in former books, my excuse must be that some of the most interesting developments of science are official secrets, and that the flow of scientific publication has been greatly diminished by the war. But the war has at least convinced hundreds of thousands of people that they must take science seriously. And an appreciable fraction of these believe, with me, that scientific method can be applied to history, economics and politics. My main object in publishing this volume is to increase their number.

October 1944.