NI Geeks unite for science

Image by Duncan Hull

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 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.

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