BY CONNOR BAMFORD
May saw the release of the long awaited, ‘The Geek Manifesto’ from Mark
Henderson, former Science Editor at The Times and current head of communications
at the Wellcome Trust. His book, a call-to-arms for geeks across the world, outlines
the case for greater scientific literacy in politics and policy making. Focusing on the
UK and US, Henderson elegantly argues that scientists – and those who respect the
scientific method – should play a bigger role in influencing decision making at all
levels and sectors, but never at the expense of democracy. The book is laced with
wonderful examples of the terrible effects when those in charge ignore the science
but it also showcases the potential public good that can arise from understanding it.
Of course not everyone is going to read this, let alone the politicians and people
in power who currently matter. So what Henderson and his followers have begun
is a movement to get a copy of this book on the desks of every MP sitting in
Westminster. This has now stretched to every MLA and their equivalents in
Scotland and Wales, with a hope that they will read and understand its message.
Dr Shane McKee, a Consultant in Genetic Medicine working in Belfast who organises
the Northern Ireland chapter, explained: “I want our MLAs to read the book,
to understand that science is vital for our future, not a luxury item, and that by
supporting science in investment and ethos, we can polish up this gem of a country,
and let it shine on the world stage.”
This should be welcome news to anyone who has thought that our politicians had a
minimal grasp of science and how it works. This should be encouraged as Northern
Ireland attempts to leave behind more challenging times during a recession. Despite
the actions of individual politicians we are beginning to realise the importance of
science and technology to our health, environment and the economy. Who knows
what we could achieve if our leaders took evidence seriously. Just try and forget
about that whole Causeway Centre creationism fiasco!
So if you’re interested, first of all go and read the book but then get onto
http://www.pledgebank.com/geekmanifulsterand and pledge to send a copy of it to your
MLA, whoever that may be. Mine was Edwin Poots and this week he’s going to have
one extra bit of homework to do.