Here are some excerpts, ideas and quotes from the book:
“Ministers aren’t obliged to make every decision according to the evidence presented to them by scientists and nothing else. They should, however, ensure that they do take scientific advice on questions to which it is pertinent – and there are few matters of public policy to which it is not. Evidence isn’t usually sufficient for sound policy-making. But it is nearly always necessary.”
“It is impossible to make sensible policy about climate change, medicine or food safety without a modicum of understanding of the scientific evidence base Our leaders need to be intelligent consumers of science. They must know how to interrogate purportedly scientific findings to judge their reliability. They should be able to recognise rules of thumb by which science evaluates others’ work, such a good controls, peer-reviewed publication and replication, and should have a feel for spotting extra ordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence.”
“Precisely what politicians think is less important than how they think.”
“The value of science, however, is seldom grasped either by the ministers, advisers and officials who take the decisions that shape everyone’s lives or by opinion-formers in the media and think-tanks to whom they typically listen.”
“There’s real opportunity here. If we get things right, we have a chance to create a constituency that politicians not only have to notice, but one they actually want to attract. Before the 2010 [UK] general election, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg did everything they could to engage with Mumsnet, the spectacularly popular and increasingly influential website for mothers. Its success is a good model for geeks: mums don’t agree on everything in politics and more than geeks do, but they have a set of broadly common values. It isn’t too much to hope that future candidates for prime minister or president might be equally keen to court the geek vote. Let’s make that happen. Let’s create a political cost for failing science. Politics has had it too easy for too long. It’s time for a geek revolution.”
“There has never been a better time to be a geek.”
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