Science and Rational Thought in Australian Politics

I started reading The Geek Manifesto this morning. The book, by UK writer and journalist Mark Henderson, is a call to those who love science and its proven method for finding the truth to make your will felt in the public sphere. Too long have uninformed, reactionary, crowd-pleasing, lowest-common-denominator politics filled the public discourse, he says. Geeks are finally getting some cred and some clout, and it’s time we used it.

The book is already speaking to me deeply. His first example of geeks exerting their influence was in the UK libel case against Simon Singh a couple of years ago, which I blogged about. Henderson is right, I thought. We have a powerful means to back up our opinions. Why should we let lawyers and business students run the show all the time?

I’m obviously going to read the rest of the Manifesto with excitement. But I’ve already started looking into forums or other sources of information here in Australia that are trying to include more science into politics. Maybe this is the time for us to shift national policy and debate into something more rational.

  • Science in Public is a science communication company, kind of a geek PR
  • Professor Ian Chubb is the “Chief Scientist for Australia [which provides] high-level independent advice to the Prime Minister and other Ministers on matters relating to science, technology and innovation. They also hold the position of Executive Officer of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council to identify challenges and opportunities for Australia that can be addressed, in part, through science. An equally important part of the role of Chief Scientist for Australia is to be a champion of science, research and the role of evidence in the community and in government. Finally, the Chief Scientist is a communicator of science to the general public, with the aim to promote understanding of, contribution to and enjoyment of science and evidence-based thinking.”
  • Many universities have centres for public policy; I’d be interested to find out if science awareness features in them.

Geeks unite.