Geoff Anders in Palladium:
In November of 1660, at Gresham College in London, an invisible college of learned men held their first meeting after 20 years of informal collaboration. They chose their coat of arms: the royal crown’s three lions of England set against a white backdrop. Their motto: “Nullius in verba,” or “take no one’s word for it.” Three years later, they received a charter from King Charles II and became what was and remains the world’s preeminent scientific institution: the Royal Society.
Three and a half centuries later, in July of 2021, even respected publications began to grow weary of a different, now constant refrain: “Trust the science.” It was a mantra everyone was supposed to accept, repeated again and again, ad nauseum.
This new motto was the latest culmination of a series of transformations science has undergone since the founding of the Royal Society, reflecting the changing nature of science on one hand, and its expanding social role on the other.