Minister calls for boffins to engage with public
And for government to listen to advice...
Minister for Innovation John Denham said the scientific community needs to improve its engagement with the public and that government needs to pay more attention to science when making policy.
Speaking to the Royal Society for Encouragement of the Arts, Commerce, and Manufacturers yesterday, Denham said scientific advice should be a key part of all government decision making and that government should change funding systems to reward boffins for making this happen.
Denham said: "If policy makers do not have access to world class scientific evidence and advice, we will not be able to make the best decisions about the tough challenges facing the country. If the public do not have the capacity to understand scientific evidence and risk, they face being unable to make the best decisions for themselves and their families or, in a democracy, put the most appropriate pressure on politicians."
On funding, Denham said the government spends nearly £6bn on research but can still find it hard to get the right advice. Equally, scientists can find they do not get financially rewarded for the advice they do give.
Denham said: "My concern is there may be disincentives in the system that emphasise published and peer-reviewed work over public policy advice. The work that some scientists and academic departments do to support policy makers can be undervalued."
Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London, welcomed the speech and said: "When I first tried to engage society with my work as a young researcher, colleagues often saw this as irrelevant and 'not real science'. So often, science was the preserve of boffins working behind closed doors. But we now recognise that public engagement with science is vital if we are to make progress as a society."
The government is currently reviewing science funding in the UK.
The speech is available here. ®
"The use of quantum computing and nano-technology to decrease the effects of climate change brought about by the rise in childhood obesity."
Childhood obesity ? That might have been true on Thursday. But today the biggest issue is the youth crime wave. Tomorrow it may be big scary dogs. Or immigrants. Or Pensions.
It's like Daily Mail bingo here.
RE: Nanny State and Error Bars
Ah! Deep insight!
But, if for example, the downsides are considered as costs against the upsides then provided, at the planning stages, such are recorded as being sufficiently small (anyone remember that the cost associated with deaths on the Tube is less than the cost of making it relatively deathless?) then it is usually deemed fine, dandy and acceptable.
Should hindsight show that the expected costs were not accurately predicted then in general, provided the BBC does not get hold of such details, all will still be well?
Quantum Leaping ........ ?
"First, there's a fear that scientists could come to dictate government policy – constraining decision-making rather than setting it on surer foundations. This is not true. ....... Nonetheless, the fear can persist that inviting evidence may undermine what we want to do.
Second, civil servants and politicians – much like the public at large – are sometimes worried about interpreting and acting upon scientific evidence. Only about one tenth of MPs come from a science background. Ministers who keep their fingers crossed and hope the world will work as they would like it to work are likely to come unstuck! " ..... http://www.dius.gov.uk/speeches/denham_science_society_160108.html
Mr Denham, all those concerns are very valid in the Fields which XXXPlore Perceptions and Code IT Virtually by Remote Proxy. Careful XSScripting can Present a Reality which cannot be Denied and which, if ignored or attacked, can result in Catastrophic Self Harm. QuITe obviously that would be a Fools' Errand.
And it seems to me to be the Grandest of Follies for anyone, be they civil servant, politician or the public at large to be worrying themselves about interpreting and acting upon scientific evidence about which they have no knowledge and it would be up to them to share with Science how they would like it to work.... for science to consider. It would be as well to keep it simple though and remember/realise that anything which works exclusively rather than being ubiquitously available will be divisive and cause nothing but problems. In popular parlance, that would be akin to Talebanisation and we would want the Status Quo inventing that monkey again.
"The Government spends almost £6 billion on some of the best research in the world, but it can still be quite difficult for decision makers to access valuable scientific evidence and advice to obtain advice that is based on the best research but which is tailored to address the public policy choices facing decision-makers." ...... £6 billion wasted if valuable scientific evidence is skewed to support public policy choices facing decision-makers rather than decisions being made to support the best research in the world. We've been down that road recently and it leads to Anarchy and Chaos and may even be so designed to Create it.
And £6 billion you say? That makes a grant of seven sevens for AI virtual Reality Program for IT and Media to Play with, look far too cheap ...... but then it is only a Driver Enabler and a Perfect Fit for ITs Purpose.
"We all know there is no intelligence there."....Posted Thursday 17th January 2008 15:19 GMT ...... Michael, I am eternally optimistic and wouldn't presume to judge that anyone is passed learning new tricks if they have a mind to.