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British Food Journal Volume 6 Issue 11 1904

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 November 1904


It is apparently becoming the fashion among certain types of self‐sufficient persons in this country to endeavour to bring discredit upon the scientific expert, and—whenever the practice can be indulged in with impunity—to snub and to insult him as far as possible. While this course of procedure is particularly to be observed when the expert is called upon to give evidence in a Court of Law, or to explain technical points before some highly inexpert body, it is not only in these circumstances that he is subjected to misrepresentation, discourtesy, and downright insult. Whenever a case occurs which appears to afford pabulum capable of being twisted into shape for the purpose, certain newspapers— generally, we are glad to say, of the lower class—are invariably ready to publish cheap sneers at science and scientific men, frequently accompanied by insulting suggestions. Other journals of a better class do not indulge in abuse and insulting suggestions, but confine themselves to lecturing the expert or experts with all that assurance which is characteristic of blatant ignorance. Accusations of incompetence and of culpable negligence are common in the gutter Press and in some so‐called Courts of Justice. Even suggestions of bad faith and of failure to honourably discharge duties undertaken are sometimes to be met with. It cannot be supposed that the reason for all this is to be found in the conduct of some very few persons who, in the eyes of all right‐thinking people, have brought discredit on themselves by appearing as “ advocate‐witnesses ” to defend the indefensible. At any rate, the conduct of such individuals affords no justification for tarring everybody with the same brush. The hostile, acidly‐cantankerous, and frequently grossly insolent attitude adopted by certain persons and in certain quarters towards those experts whose duties are of a public character and connected with legal or semi‐legal proceedings, is due to a reason which is not far to seek. It is due, in the first place, to the disgraceful ignorance in regard to scientific matters, even of the most elementary kind, which unhappily pervades all classes of the community;' and, secondly, to that form of jealousy peculiar to the small and mean mind which detests and kicks at anything and everything beyond its power of comprehension. When apparently contradictory evidence is given by scientific witnesses—appearing on opposite sides in a case—it is obviously far more easy and satisfactory to shriek about the “ differing of doctors ” than to admit that one's own miserable ignorance prevents one from seeing the points and from ascertaining whether there is any real contradiction or not. It is far more convenient to suggest that the public analyst, for instance, does not know what he is about, has made some absurd mistake, or has been guilty of scandalous negligence, than to admit that one does not understand his certificate owing to one's own defective education or inferior intellectual capacity.


(1904), "British Food Journal Volume 6 Issue 11 1904", British Food Journal, Vol. 6 No. 11, pp. 225-246.




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