When Worlds Collide #80: When politicians turn to science for evidence…

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday broadsheet newspaper on 25 August 2013

“For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert!”

With those tongue-in-cheek words, Sir Arthur C Clarke opened a June 1998 op-ed essay published in Science, journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It probably struck a chord, and he soon added it as a fourth to his better known Three Laws.

The dilemma he highlighted is even more acute today. How can politicians make the best possible public policies when there is no scientific consensus in many technically complex issues?

And what can the public do when politicians in office are using scientific evidence only when it suits them, and ignore all the inconvenient truths? In other words, when governments are being expediently ‘evidence-based’?

Responsible governments have to balance the short and long term public…

View original post 1,255 more words