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Beddington goes to war against bad science

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Beddington goes to war against bad science.
Selective use of science ‘as bad as racism or homophobia’

By John Dwyer and Laura Hood

This is an update of an article first published on Monday 14th February 2011.

Government Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington is stepping up the war on pseudoscience with a call to his fellow government scientists to be “grossly intolerant” if science is being misused by religious or political groups.

In closing remarks to an annual conference of around 300 scientific civil servants on 3 February, in London, Beddington said that selective use of science ought to be treated in the same way as racism and homophobia. “We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of racism. We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of people who [are] anti-homosexuality...We are not—and I genuinely think we should think about how we do this—grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method,” he said.

Beddington said he intends to take this agenda forward with his fellow chief scientists and also with the research councils. “I really believe that... we need to recognise that this is a pernicious influence, it is an increasingly pernicious influence and we need to be thinking about how we can actually deal with it.

...

Beddington also had harsh words for journalists who treat the opinions of non-scientist commentators as being equivalent to the opinions of what he called “properly trained, properly assessed” scientists. “The media see the discussions about really important scientific events as if it’s a bloody football match. It is ridiculous.”

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TAGGED: MEDIA, POLITICS


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