|Prof Brian Cox, preacher|
He quotes an unnamed 'leading authority' that the 2012 myth is a 'complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.' Foxy Coxy then asks: 'I wonder where we've seen that before?'
He may very well ask. Some might argue that the $4.4bn Large Hadron Collider - $500m from the UK alone - has something of the ker-ching jamboree about it. This wildly expensive experiment is the largest part of a massive funding international extravaganza to prove the big bang theory and find the creation 'God particle' - though to Cox, big bang is already fact if his BBC shows are anything to go by.
This reminds me of the open letter, signed by 33 leading scientists and more than 450 since, that was published in the New Scientist in 2004. It questioned the big bang and the reliance on 'fudge factors' to build up a theory - '[It] can boast of no quantitative predictions that have subsequently been validated by observation,' they wrote.
They point out that other credible creation theories are 'severely hampered by a complete lack of funding' as big bang zealots grab the research cash and ostracise those scientists who challenge the theory. The scientists write: 'In cosmology today, doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.'
They conclude: 'This reflects a growing dogmatic mindset that is alien to the spirit of free scientific inquiry.'
The jury's still out on big bang. But I see in Brian Cox something of the dogmatism complained of in the 2004 open letter. He routinely describes as 'rubbish' and 'drivel' whatever falls outside his knowledge (such as astrology), and betrays an unfortunate tendency to pass off his opinions and interpretations as fact. For all his scientific knowledge he is at heart a preacher of opinions.
Foxy Coxy is cashing in rather nicely on the cosmic theory du jour with his TV shows, books, Sun articles and science tours. He sets a splendid example in peer group conformism. And he has such a lovely smile.
Read the open letter