UK report on science and society calls for more scepticism

31 March 2010

The UK Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has five expert groups established to inform science strategy in different key areas: Science for All (making science relevant to everyday life and encouraging public engagement); Science and the Media; Science and Learning; Science for Careers; and Science and Trust. The Science and Trust Expert Group is supposed to promote social responsibility and ethics in science, consider the societal and ethical implications of developments, and provide ‘independent evaluation of activities so that societal issues are reflected in transparent decision making by Government and business’.
Earlier this month the group released a new report, Starting a National Conversation about Good Science)., following an earlier consultation on Science and Society. The report encourages the public to have a healthy degree of scepticism with respect to science and makes recommendations with a view to Enhancing society’s capabilities to make better informed judgements about sciences and their uses in order to ensure that the 'licence to operate' is socially robust’ (see press release).
Importantly, the report also calls for more discussion of risk and uncertainty in science, for more education about ethical behaviour as part of scientific training, and for scientists to work more closely with ‘social scientists and other research professionals in developing and using good evaluation practice’.

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