Royal Society Debate: ‘The Experimental Society: What Happens when Evidence, Uncertainty and Politics Collide?’

This event will take place on 28 June, 2010 at Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

Speakers include Michael Hulme and Sheila Jasanoff, and Brian Wynne and Bron Szerszynski are part of the planning team – all contributors to the TCS Special Issue on Changing Climates (out now).

Scientists were once imagined ‘speaking truth to power’. Today they are more likely to be accused of playing politics. In the last year, we have seen the dismissal of Professor David Nutt as a government drugs adviser, the hacking of climate scientists’ emails at the University of East Anglia and concerns about the processes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These controversies have revealed a sometimes uneasy relationship between scientists, politicians and the public.

For 350 years, the Royal Society has stood for the importance of evidence, scepticism and experimentation. How do these principles translate to 21st century politics, when countless decisions rest on the robustness of scientific advice? Can policymakers improve the way they deal with scientific uncertainty? How much experimentation can the public handle?


• Lord Martin Rees, President, The Royal Society

• Lord John Krebs FRS, Principal, Jesus College, Oxford and Chair, Royal Society Science Policy Advisory Group

• Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard University

• Professor David Nutt, Professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs

• Professor Michael Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia and author of Why we disagree about climate change

This event is the Royal Society Science Policy Centre Annual Debate, and forms part of See Further: The Festival of Science + Arts, a unique ten-day festival to mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society through a host of cross-disciplinary collaborations, scientific and artistic events.

The Royal Society are hosting the debate in partnership with the Science and Democracy Network, Sciencewise-ERC and the Experimentality programme of Lancaster University, which is hosting a conference on ‘The Experimental Society’ from 7-9 July 2010.

Please note that this event will take place at the Southbank Centre, not at the Royal Society.

If you would like to attend this free event, please email by Friday 18 June with your name, job title and place of work, clearly stating which event you would like to attend. Please forward this invitation to any colleagues who may be interested.

Doors will open at 17:30hrs and the debate will run from 1800hrs to 1930hrs.

The TCS Special Issue on Changing Climates (vol 27, issue 2-3) is available here

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