Chief Scientific Officer Criticised by Committee

UK government's Chief Scientific Officer, John Beddington, questioned by the DIUS committee about evidence and science in decision makingWith Barak Obama championing the role of science in government in his inaugural speech, it is disappointing to see our very own Chief Scientific Advisor falling short of expectations.

Prof. John Beddington, has been criticised by the House of Commons Committee responsible for Science, the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee. As the government's most visible scientific expert, Beddington has a responsibility to champion science- and evidence-based decision making.

The committee, which oversees DIUS, found Beddington to be more equivocal than his predecessor, Prof. David King regarding the public funding of homeopathy, the reclassification of cannabis, and the role of evidence in government:
We are concerned that on homeopathy Professor Beddington did not take the opportunity to restate the importance of the scientific process and to state that what was important was the balance of scientific evidence, [and that he] has not chosen to challenge departments where no evidence was produced.

[he] is the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and we are surprised that rather than champion evidence-based science within government he appears to see his role as defending government policy or, in the case of homeopathy, explaining why there is no clear government policy.
King was known for dismissing silly ideas, so it is worrying that Beddington does not feel the need to put scientific truths ahead of political ones.

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