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News and Comment

New Sense About Science Chair announced

25 April 2012

This year Sense About celebrates its 10 year anniversary. This also marks the end of Lord Taverne’s Chairmanship of Sense About Science. We said farewell to Dick at our Annual Lecture on 23rd April, and are delighted that Dick and Janice Taverne have agreed to become Patrons of Sense About Science.

We are very pleased to announce that our new Chair will be Professor Paul Hardaker. Paul is Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society and holds a visiting professorship at the University of Reading. He first worked with Sense About Science on Making Sense of Weather and Climate, was subsequently invited to join our Advisory Council, and has been a Trustee of Sense About Science since 2009.

 

A few words from Professor Hardaker

“It is hard to believe that Sense About Science is 10 this year. In that time we have helped thousands of people to make sense of the science behind issues that matter in today’s society. We have raised expectations of evidence in public life. We have become a trusted source of information, a respected enemy of misinformation and a champion of research and evidence against suppression. Sense About Science has one of the country’s largest networks of early-career researchers (Voice of Young Science) and one of the most diverse and inclusive networks of partners. We are now working with organisations in other countries to help them to develop their own versions of what we do.” 

“But we are not complacent. We know that paying attention to the evidence remains ‘a nice idea’ in some quarters. Many of the important issues before us suffer from misleading claims and poor evidence. Though addressing that with small resources is tough, our aims are well served by a wide base of supporters who know the value of sound science and evidence to society.”

“This value was at the heart of Lord Taverne’s original motivations for establishing Sense About Science and it is a theme of the lecture which marks his departure. Dick Taverne argues that science not only promotes health and wealth, but is bound up with society being more democratic, tolerant and compassionate. That is as relevant today as it was 10 years ago and I am proud to follow him now as chair of Sense About Science to take it forward.”

 

From Lord Taverne

In his lecture, Lord Taverne reflected on the past 10 years of Sense About Science:

“I founded Sense About Science in 2002 out of frustration with the misinformation, misrepresentation  and basic lack of understanding of science that pervaded politics, much of the media, and public opinion. At the time most scientists were reluctant to take part in public discussion, let alone political debate. But we now have a list of over 5,000 scientists who are willing, often eager, to take part in public discussion and debate.”

“Every time bogus science is pulled apart, it reveals how good science works. The Sense About Science leaflet I Don’t Know What to Believe explained the importance of peer review. It has had a big impact, with over half a million  downloads and wide distribution in schools. Our campaign ‘Ask for Evidence’ is growing in momentum and goes to the root of the scientific way of thinking. The Voice of Young Science, a movement of young research workers developed by our young staff, has stimulated other young scientists to promote good science.  It has spread like wildfire and is now being copied in several other countries. It has been one of our most unexpected successes.”

“Personally I have found working with our staff one of the most enjoyable episodes in my career - so far.  It has been for a cause that Popper and Medawar have both, I think rightly, described as ‘the greatest adventure of mankind’.”


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