Sense about Science ? equipping people to make sense of science and evidence
Annual lecture 2011
Epidemics and refuseniks: the birth of state responsibility
by Professor Richard Evans
Chair: Tracey Brown
Our sixth annual Sense About Science lecture took place on Monday 9th May 2011, at the Royal Society of Medicine and was delivered by Professor Richard Evans, Regius professor of modern history at the University of Cambridge.
Professor Evans compared historical case studies such as cholera epidemics in the 19th century, with recent public health crises including the cholera epidemic in Haiti and the 1980s outbreak of BSE in the UK.
He posed questions about how the relationship between science, politics and society influences the acceptance of new scientific theories, and critical decisions about public health.
This prompted much discussion about the use of scientific evidence in unfolding public health crises, when the need for decisive action coincides with unclear evidence. Can overreaction to an epidemic be riskier than the epidemic itself?
See more pictures from the night here. Photos by Kelly Haddow.
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Professor Richard Evans
Richard is Regius Professor of History and President of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. He studied at Oxford and has taught at a variety of universities, including Birkbeck, University of London, where he was Vice-Master. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the British Academy, and is currently Gresham Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, London.
Among his many books is “Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years, 1830-1910”, published in 1987, as a result of which he was asked to help organise the centenary commemoration of the great cholera epidemic of 1892 in the city. He has also delivered the Pump-Handle Lecture of the John Snow Society, of which he is an honorary member.
More recently, he has written a three-volume history of Nazi Germany; the final instalment, “The Third Reich at War”, was published by Penguin Books in 2008.
Photography by Kelly Haddow www.kemaha.co.uk