08 November 2009

Politicians' twaddle

Will politicians learn from the Nutt case? Dr Grumble doubts it. They do not want to listen to scientists when formulating their policies on the misuse of drugs. They want to do what they believe the public wants. That is their prerogative. They don't have to accept scientific advice but they should be prepared to meet head on the fact that their policy is not evidence-based. It is wrong for them to try and silence those who wish to point out when the scientific facts do not support policy . It is even more wrong for them to ask for scientific opinion to fit their policy. That is not what science is about.

Politicians can do damage with their misguided policies on drug misuse but it won't be disastrous. They know that. That's why they went against advice. Anything for a few votes from the Daily Mail reader who believes that tougher policies on drugs will make his children safer. The fact that there is not much evidence for this never enters the argument.

Scientific facts often get in the way of what is politically expedient. The public often ask for the impossible. The politicians want to give it to them so start making promises. People begin to believe the impossible can happen. We all want it to be Christmas.

You see this sort of thing in advertising. The adverts for the enormous glossy four-wheel-drive SUVs with a hybrid engine. The electric motor is just there to make the purchaser feel good. The car is no greener. But the buyers don't question it. They don't consider a smaller car. Or a bike. They don't want the truth. They want it to be Christmas. They want that car and they want to feel good about it. They are never going to let facts get in the way of what they want.

In the same way as advertisers, politicians dupe the public. They rarely get found out. Here today and gone tomorrow their misguided policies damage not them but their successors. Does any of this matter? Does it matter that inconvenient scientific facts get brushed aside?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see David MacKay has recently been appointed as Chief Scientific Advisor of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Is he allowed to say these things?