I’ve been told I have a thick skin, but a recent post attacking the ‘geek movement’ pissed me off in a way that I generally reserve for articles by James Delingpole. It annoyed me not because it attacked me directly (and I wouldn’t care if it did) but because it has the potential to dissuade scientists – especially junior ones – from engaging proactively with politicians and society.
I won’t go into a detailed critique of the post here, but
suffice to say that it spectacularly misrepresents everything and everyone it
seeks to attack. The comments below the post from Brian Cox, Mark Henderson, David Colquhoun
and Shane McKee say it all. Both the insulting tone and patronising rhetoric of
the post suggests that this misrepresentation was a deliberate tactic to garner attention. Perhaps not the attention it expected, mind you.
Angry posts decrying a non-existent ‘geek movement’ do
nothing to champion science or science communication. They also don’t challenge
us in any meaningful or intelligent way. As far as I can tell, such articles
serve only to generate faux dissent and ego-boosting publicity for those who
author them. We need intelligent and nuanced discussion about the role of
science in politics – not cheap shots.
So, to any scientists (especially junior ones) who happened
to read the above post, please don’t be put off from engaging. Society needs
you. Inspired by the Geek
Manifesto, we’ve already seen fantastic campaigns to link scientists with
politicians by Shane McKee and Dave Watts. We have
also completed our own modest campaign to send the Geek Manifesto and personal
letters to each member of the National
Assembly for Wales, and we are also in the process of setting up a new
evidence information service for MPs.
I say all this to accentuate the positive because in the
last 24 hours my Twitter feed has become fairly unpleasant and acrimonious place. Intelligent
discussions about the role of science in politics are vital and we mustn't allow this dialogue to be hijacked