What role for a scientist in political science communication?

This is a GUEST POST by ATHENE DONALD, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge and Master of Churchill College. A couple of months ago Brigitte Nerlich, who hosts this blog, asked me to contribute a post. As it happened, when she sent me the invitation I had just read, and possibly inwardly …

The well-informed citizen

Last week Greg Hollin sent me an interesting article by Charles Taylor on Latour and metaphor which was an enjoyalbe read, as it sparkles with word play from the title onwards. However, this is not what I want to write about. When reading the article I happened to glance at a footnote mentioning an old …

Basic science and climate politics: A flashback to 1989

We were trying to empty a room for refurbishment. So we rummaged through some old papers which included amongst many others: an inaugural lecture transcript from 1991 (Robert Dingwall, former Director of our Institute for Science and Society), Karl Popper’s last paper entitled “Towards an evolutionary theory of knowledge” (with the enigmatic scribble: ‘Popper’s last …

A cut too far? The ritual slaughter debate in Britain

The World Food Summit, in 1996, agreed a definition of food security that included the requirement that food met the food preferences of communities. Indeed, it is evident that food preferences reflect aspects of culture including religious identity. Where food preferences include the consumption of animals, debates about animal welfare also arise which can come …

Science, politics and epigenetics

This post by Shea Robison is reposted here with the permission of author. Shea originally posted it on his blog ‘The nexus of epigenetics‘ under the title “Epigenetics Minority Report Part I: Epigenetics, blame, precrime and politics“ *** If you picked up the movie reference in the title to this post, you are likely (hopefully) asking …

Publicness and Öffentlichkeit – some linguistic musings

Since Roman times, the word ‘public’ has been deeply embedded in the English language, from republic to publican to public convenience; but it still causes problems, as we have discovered several times on the pages of this blog. ‘Public’ has multiple meanings; it is a staple of academic inquiry; but it is not a word …

You say regulatory science, I say mandated science; let’s call the whole thing off?

One issue of contention after the Circling the Square conference was the apparent confounding of science with regulatory science. I finally took a bit of time to dig into the history and use of the concept of ‘regulatory science’ and a related concept, ‘mandated science’. I should stress that there are whole courses on ‘regulatory …

Making sense in science and in public

Over the last few weeks some of my colleagues within the Institute for Science and Society and the Making Science Public programme (and beyond) have probably got pretty annoyed with me, as I have become a bit argumentative in a debate about science and politics and the line between sense and nonsense. In the following …