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ACM Opinion

Scientists Should Be on Tap, Not on Top

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Lord Robert May

"Science is a useful way of asking the right questions, but it doesn't always have the right answers," says Lord Robert May.

Credit: University of Oxford

Should scientists have a special voice when it comes to deciding government policy? On Tuesday (February 16) Robert May, the U.K. government's former chief scientific adviser, set out his views. The answer? No.

May, a former president of the Royal Society, reckons that the job of scientists is to lay out the scientific facts and—importantly—the uncertainties. After that, it's up to the public to decide what to do about them.

Scientists can and should make their opinions clear—but only as citizens. Being a scientist doesn't give you the right to lord it over the rest of the population. Science, May pointed out, is a double-edged sword, and people have a right to feel wary of its gifts.

From New Scientist
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