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Sustainability News


December 12, 2013

ucentCheck out these recent articles regarding the science policy interface in Nature and The Guardian.

Policy: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims, by William J. Sutherland, David Spiegelhalter, and Mark Burgman. Published November 20,2013. Calls for the closer integration of science in political decision-making have been commonplace for decades. However, there are serious problems in the application of science to policy — from energy to health and environment to education.This list will help non-scientists to interrogate advisers and to grasp the limitations of evidence.

Also, in response to the above article:

  1. Top 20 things politicians need to know about science by Oliver Milman on November 20, 2013.

    British and Australian scientists compile a list of tips to help policy makers better understand the 'imperfect nature of science'. Politicians lack the skills to properly interpret and analyse science, according to a group of Australian and British scientists who have compiled a list of 20 tips for MPs to ponder. The tips, published in Nature, have been compiled by William Sutherland, a zoologist, and David Spiegelhalter, a mathematician – both are from the University of Cambridge – and Mark Burgman, an ecologist at the University of Melbourne. The trio argue the "immediate priority is to improve policy makers’ understanding of the imperfect nature of science" by suggesting 20 concepts that should be taught to government ministers and public servants.

  2. Top 20 things scientists need to know about policy-making by Chris Tyler from The Guardian on December 2, 2013.

    There are some common misunderstanding among scientists about how governments make their policy decisions. When scientists moan about how little politicians know about science, I usually get annoyed. Such grouching is almost always counterproductive and more often than not betrays how little scientists know about the UK's governance structures, processes, culture and history. So when the Guardian reported on a Nature article that listed 20 things that politicians should know about science, I started reading it with apprehension, half expecting my head to explode within a few paragraphs.

  3. 12 things policy-makers and scientists should know about the public by Roland Jackson from the blog Political Science hosted by The Guardian.

    We've had 20 things politicians need to know about science and 20 things scientists need to know about policy. Where's the rest of society fit into this? We have had the Top 20 things politicians need to know about science and the Top 20 things scientists need to know about policy-making. But where does the rest of society fit into this? People can easily become invisible in the discourse between policy wonks and scientists, or they are regarded as barriers to ‘acceptance’ of whatever particular policy or technology is the flavour of the moment. That is simplistic of course because there are multiple ways in which people can and do have their voice within our democracy, but in the interest of balance here is a complementary list. There are only 12 of them, because 20 are too many. The evidence for these derives from the public dialogues evaluated by Sciencewise alongside public attitude surveys and direct personal experience of public engagement over many years.