Nearly half of the UK believes in aliens and eight out of 10 of us say cancer is the disease which most needs a vaccine, a poll by the British Royal Society has revealed.
The Royal Society, celebrating its 350th birthday this month, found that 66% of us say that disease control and eradication should be a top priority for science.
And more than half said they would like science to enable them to extend their lifespan. No surprise there then.
The poll makes great reading but is stacked with the kind of inconsistencies that make the British seem just, well, a bit dazed and confused to the rest of the modern world.
Royal Society President Martin Rees said: “Science is an unending quest for understanding and over the coming 350 years our appetite for discovery could see us develop a cure for cancer, a solution to climate change, and even discover extra-terrestrial life.”
After we’ve sorted cancer, preventing HIV/AIDS is seen as the most important disease for science to crack with malaria close behind. All stirring and important stuff, no doubt.
But it is the section of the poll that deals with aliens where the inconsistencies of public opinion start to seriously fray around the seams.
Get this – nearly half of people in Britain believe in the existence of aliens, according to the poll.
More than a third of think scientists should be actively searching for and attempting to make contact with aliens. Yet fewer than one in 10 people believe that space exploration should be a top priority for the scientific community.
Err, sorry. Run that by me again. Just one more time.
We believe they are out there. We think we should be doing more to find them but we mustn’t make it a priority for science.
So how are we going to find them then? Wait till little green men fall out of the sky into our shopping centres? Plant some space dust in a conservatory and grow an alien tree?
They’re hardly likely to be lurking under are settees are they?
We either want to find them or we don’t. Simple. Make your bloody minds up.
As the curtain falls on the 350th anniversary year, the Royal Society is publishing “Science sees further,” a new report examining the most pressing issues facing the world today and asks what the future of science will hold.
Launched this week, it includes chapters on whether we are alone in the universe, how we can manage the increasing demands on our planet’s resources, and whether science can save the lives of millions with new vaccines.
There’s no chapter on stupidity being related to being British though.
By Adam Moss, News Editor