Here is a timely article, coming on the heels of the earlier message about the Victorian Energy Minister commissioning a study to “once and for all” prove that the government’s smart meter policy is correct and that smart meters are safe.
From Kit Weaver
ISIS Report 27/01/14
Science for Democracy
Politically Correct Science for the Masses (Excerpts)
Real democracy does not just mean the right to vote. People must also have access to the information they need to make an informed choice; that’s why scientists must be free to tell the truth and express their views accordingly on scientific issues. … Prof Peter Saunders
If a policy can be claimed to be based on science, it acquires a privileged status. Anyone who disagrees is treated like the crank who claims to have designed a perpetual motion machine.
Hence, to accept that there are legitimate doubts about the science is much harder than to acknowledge that some reputable economists disagree with the direction of government policy.
That’s why governments are so anxious that what is accepted as science is in line with what they want to do. They tend to appoint as advisers people who will produce the advice they want to hear. Indeed, the advisers may be connected more or less closely with the special interests that lobbied for the policy in the first place. And once the governments have got the advice, they want the matter closed. Scientists are expected to fall in line, like ministers are supposed to accept cabinet responsibility, and
support in public whatever has been agreed, regardless of their own opinion on the matter.
Thus Ian Boyd, Scientific Adviser to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), writes that the “voice of science” should be heard through advisory committees and “embedded advisers” such as himself. It is interesting that he describes himself as embedded, a word generally used to describe a war correspondent who is attached to a military unit and can go only where the army allows him to go and report only what the army allows him to report.
Above all, he argues, scientists should not be the “voice of dissent” in the public arena. Once the government has decided what the science is, scientists should not disagree with it in public. This may remind you of the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church in the 17th century. Once it had decided that the Earth was the centre of the universe, it was not for a mere scientist like Galileo to insist that it is merely one of a number of planets in orbit around the Sun. At least, he was not to say it in public, which is why the Inquisition sentenced him to house arrest for life.
Scientific advice given to governments must be available to the public. What is more, we must be allowed to see the advice as it came from the scientists, not in a version that has been doctored to support a policy.
Governments should be doing all they can to promote and liberate science, not conniving with corporations to constrain it. This is particularly important at a time when the heavy hand of corporations is operating in scientific publishing to such an extent that information vital to people’s health is being deliberately erased from the public record.
Read the full report here