The clash of science and politics

I am awaiting the Employment Court’s decision of Jim Salinger’s case (see Clamping down on science communication). However, related to this is the scandal blowing up in the UK over the sacking of the Professor David Nutt as the governments chief science advisor on drugs. Prof. Nutt was chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Two other members of the Council have resigned in protest (see  Government drug adviser David Nutt sacked, David Nutt’s sacking provokes mass revolt against Alan Johnson and Drug expert quits panel over sacking of David Nutt).

A couple of local science bloggers have posts giving the background to Prof. Nutt’s sacking and the issues involved. Have a look at Peter Griffin’s When science and politics collide – the fallout from the Nutt affair at Griffin’s Gadgets and Grant Jacobs’ When is a scientific paper political campaigning? at Code for Life.

Related to the issue of the conflict between science and politics is this panel discussion Do We Still Believe in Science? It took place a few days ago at the Quantum to Cosmos Festival held at the Perimeter Insitute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. There are also some other great videos from this festival listed on the programme.

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See also: Cabinet in drug war over sacking

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2 responses to “The clash of science and politics

  1. The UK government seems to have problems with scientists. Before Dr David Nutt there was Dr David Kelly, and before him there was Alan Turing.

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  2. It’s not just science. Governments (and people generally) don’t like anything that disagrees with their prejudices or vested interests.

    In 2007 in the Canadian province of Ontario, the provincial government effectively suppressed its own recommendation that the province adopt a new, proprtional voting system. The Report was the product of a Citizens Assembly process the ontario government initiated. The outcome was a recommendation for a change to the voting system and a referendum.

    The Ontario government stopped publishing the Citizens Assembly report prior to the referendum, describing it a “advocacy material”.

    It suppressed its own recommendation, arrived at by its own body, funded by taxpayers, triggering a referendum!

    The official information campaign was predictably bad, amounting to little more than “You have a decision to make”.

    Science isn’t the only victim here. All manner of truth is rejected, denied and hidden by vested interests.

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