Is science at ease with itself?

Trust, respect and openness have felt big themes for the week.

I was really sorry not to get to ‘Sense about Science’s’ annual lecture not least because it meant I missed Director, Tracey Brown, do one of her fabulous welcomes and introductions.  The main act was Cambridge University historian, Professor Richard Evans, who examined the relationship between science, politicians and the public at the time of various epidemics in history.  You can read the transcript of his lecture on the Sense about Science website and there’s a discussion on The Guardian as well.  Thoroughly absorbing, and his final quote is as follows:

‘These aims can only be achieved in a democratic context where state, medical scientists and the public have some degree of mutual trust and respect.’

The question I have been tussling with ever since is whether science needs at first to be at ease with itself before it can be at ease with its partners?  But, realistically can it ever be?  Indeed, should it be?  Hence the exam question as my headline today.

Today the Royal Society announced a new project and working group on ‘Science as a public enterprise’ focusing, firstly, on how scientific data and information can be shared more openly within the scientific community and, secondly, on public engagement with this information.  Details here and I’d really encourage people to make submissions.  Forgive me for a little titter though when I saw the working group membership list of the great and the good – not an ordinary soul in sight!  There’s a good piece about open data by four of the working group members in the Lancet here.

Talking of the Lancet they have also launched today a new ‘portal’ to gather evidence on how the health reforms are impacting on patients, clinicians and others. A good initiative.

And, finally, just to say that AMRC has today published its response to the European Commission’s concept paper on revising the EU Clinical Trials Directive.  Now that’s a concept none of us are at ease with.

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