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The Sciences

The Two Cultures Divide That Matters is Between "Rich" and "Poor"

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Stefan Collini says it. Naturesays it. Andrew Maynard says it. In sum, having now read through many, many 50 year anniversary reactions to Snow's original "two cultures" essay, I'm detecting an intriguing theme. A lot of people seem to think (and it's hard to dispute) that the most relevant message from the lecture today is actually contained in its least known section--namely, Snow's focus at the end of his speech on the importance of science in addressing the plight of the poor, disadvantaged, and undernourished of the world. Snow did, after all, later write that he wished he'd retitled his essay "The Rich and the Poor." And of all the "two cultures" gaps that we might conceivably postulate, there's no doubt this one is still very much with us. Snow was, above all, a great scientific humanitarian, and our world has just as much need of those now as it ever did.

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