Scientific illiteracy – it’s bad for your health
It never ceases to amaze me that the more dogma-driven of politicians rarely follow the adage that if you’re in a hole, stop digging! That’s especially true if you’re Jeremy Hunt, the UK Health Secretary, and your excavations undermine the tenets of science-based policy.
Professor Steven Hawking has accused politicians of ‘cherry picking’ evidence to impose new contracts on medics in the National Health Service. The Health Secretary’s response was to argue that he couldn’t ignore the evidence and then to accuse Hawking of peddling pernicious falsehoods.
Hawking’s concern is that four of the eight papers cited by Hunt in support of his actions had not been peer-reviewed and that 13 papers that contradicted the government view had been ignored.
Hawking further stated that:
“Speaking as a scientist, cherry picking evidence is unacceptable. When public figures abuse scientific argument, citing some studies but suppressing others, to justify policies that they want to implement for other reasons, it debases scientific culture”.
And that is not just Hawking’s view. According to other reports:
“… the editor of the British Medical Journal, statisticians and the BMA council chair, amongst others, said that [Hunt] had misrepresented research to support his claim …“.
So, despite such a depressing farrago of fact and fiction, what was the quote that made me laugh? ‘Twas this …
“Professor Hawking has given us answers to many of the universe’s most challenging questions, and even he can’t work out why Jeremy Hunt is still in his job.”