Science & Health

Manifesto

I’ll start by making my position clear:  I’m a scientist by training, with a need for questions and evidence.  I’m a strong believer in conventional science as a positive force in our lives.  At the same time, I’m a psychologist, and I know that people make sense of science and technology in different ways, and these human values absolutely need to be taken into account in the way that society deals with advances in science, health, and technology.

For scientists, developers, and other experts the issues are a little different: they may genuinely struggle to understand the concerns of non-experts.  Good work in this field means engaging on two sides, with users and audiences on the one hand, and experts and organisations on the other.  

The concerns that general audiences will raise are also very different in nature to the ones that will be generated by ethicists – in the case of new  medical technologies, for example, people are very concerned with fairness.

Some current issues I’m thinking about:

  • Why do we care so much now about what happens to donated sperm and eggs?
  • Why do people find plant biotechnology bad, when it’s arguably far more controlled than traditional plant breeding methods?
  • Why don’t people worry about wifi networks?
  • Should more women have babies at home?
  • Why is Dr. Gillian Mckeith so popular?
  • Do museum science exhibitions reach out beyond the usual middle-class suspects?
  • If online privacy is so important, why are some people very keep to put all their photos on sites like Flickr?  How do people protect and negotiate their online identities and their real-life privacy?

Some past projects:

  • Designing effective communications training for scientists
  • Issues in the provision of patient information leaflets with drugs
  • International attitudes to plant biotechnology
  • (With People Science and Policy) UK Biobank
  • (With People Science and Policy) Railway safety and investment priorities
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