Evidence matters to the public

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What Works Global Summit. Register now.

Putting evidence at the heart of policy and practice. 26th - 28th September.

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Plant Science Panel

Insecticides, biofuels, GMOs …

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'The Ugly Truth'

by Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science

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Annual lecture 2012

What has science ever done for us?

by Lord Taverne

Chair: Tracey Brown

Our seventh annual Sense About Science lecture took place on Monday 23rd April 2012 at the Royal Society of Medicine and was delivered by Dick Taverne, founding chair of Sense About Science, marking the tenth anniversary of Sense About Science.

Lord Taverne delivering Lecture

Lord Taverne, founding chair of Sense About Science and former Labour minister, gave this year's lecture titled: "What has science ever done for us?"

He argued that science not only promotes health and wealth, but is bound up with society being more democratic, tolerant and compassionate and called  for celebration when politicians change their minds in light of the evidence. Dick explained that reason and civilisation go hand in hand, saying science has eroded the denial of human rights since the Enlightenment by its exposure of superstition and ignorance, as well as by its repugnance to dogma.

His Lecture led to an open and passionate discussion with the audience.

You can listen to the Guardian's pre-lecture interview with Lord Taverne or read a transcript of Lord Taverne's Lecture.

A recording of the Lecture and the discussion is available thanks to the Guardian.


See more pictures from the night.

Photography by Kelly Haddow: www.kemaha.co.uk


Lord Taverne

Lord TaverneDick Taverne studied philosophy and ancient history at Balliol College, Oxford (First Class Honours). He was called to the Bar in 1954 (appointed QC in 1965), became a Labour Member of Parliament in 1962 and served as a Minister from 1966 to 1970, first in the Home Office and then the Treasury, where he was Financial Secretary. In 1972 he resigned from the Labour Party and was re-elected as an independent social democrat. In the early 1970s he launched the Institute for Fiscal Studies, now one of the most respected institutes in Britain. He has served on the boards of several international companies. In 1996 he was appointed to the House of Lords. In recent years his main political interest has been science and society. He founded Sense About Science in 2002, which he has chaired for the past 10 years, wrote The March of Unreason - Science, Democracy and the New Fundamentalism (Oxford University Press, 2005) and was voted by the Association of Science Writers as Parliamentary Science Communicator of the Year, 2005.


Annual Lecture Sponsors 2012