01 June 2012

Ian Scoones on "The Geeks Fight Back"

A very interesting blog in the Huffington Post today by IDS' Ian Scoones about the relationship between scientists and the general public.

His article is mostly in reaction to the Geek Manifesto from the Wellcome Trust's head of communications, Mark Henderson.

Ian argues that the debate this has sparked runs the risk of suggesting that we should leave it to the scientists to determine the role of science in society.  He notes that dissent, debate and deliberation in science, even (especially perhaps) from non-scientists, is important to support.  I very much support this view.

He also endorses the famous Churchill line that "scientists should be on tap but not on top".  I don't agree with this perspective--there is a big space between "on tap" and "on top".  Scientists are citizens too.

The key is, as he says, to set up processes that ensure inclusive and balanced debates about risk, regulation and benefits (see the STEPS Manifesto).

Ian's blog is an important contribution to the debate.

No comments: