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Dame Anne Glover challenges scientists to speak out

Dame Anne Glover (Vice- Principal External Affairs & Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen, and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission) was this year's speaker at the annual IFST Lecture. In her talk, ‘Science for the EU and EU for Science’she threw down the gauntlet for EU scientists in all lines of work to raise their voices in public where they see the omission or misuse of scientific evidence in communications, by the media, government, or any other body, on issues and policies that impact on citizens.

She showed that scientists are generally a well-trusted group and stressed their role helping politicians, media, NGOs and other citizens interpret the uncertainties in science and communicate risks in a balanced way, not exaggerating those that may be high impact yet low probability and not‘cherry picking’evidence to pursue a particular agenda. When scientists do speak out, it must be done in a clearly understandable language, with honesty about the uncertainties and the available facts.

Anne praised European science, technology and engineering as the best in class and extolled the benefits of a united Europe in scientific research. Yet she felt that the EU needed to do better in translating the knowledge generated for citizens, business and governments and building effective structures to do this. She warned that Europe will struggle to succeed if politicians ignore scientific evidence, citizens do not listen to the evidence and industry does not talk about what it is doing. Scientists are well-placed to engender the trust needed for citizens to have more of an appetite for the innovations delivered from the knowledge that EU science produces.

A recording from the lecture is available on the IFST website.

 



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