Beyond evidence: should science expect to win the argument?

Campaigners and other participants in politics often advocate the importance of respect for evidence and expertise in policymaking. This is particularly true in the arena of science policy where past and existing policies, from flood mitigation to tackling bovine TB to drugs policy, have been roundly criticised for ignoring the best available evidence.

So what is the missing ingredient in effective, informed and accountable science policymaking? Is there a need to shift political culture to be more evidence-based or do scientists need to learn to frame advice in more real-world terms? Conversely, do scientists focus too narrowly on only one angle at the expense of associated moral, democratic and legal concerns?

In this fringe, jointly hosted with the Science Council, we’ll hear from Liberal Democrats with experience campaigning on science issues within and outside the party to examine why science doesn’t always win the argument and to ask what else needs to be taken into account to build a successful policy platform.

Fringe details

Saturday 14 March, 13.00–14.00
ACC Room 13


Dr Evan Harris, Vice Chair, Federal Policy Committee

Evan worked as a doctor from 1991 and was elected to the National Council of the British Medical Association. He was subsequently elected as the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, representing the constituency from 1997–2010. He has served as a party spokesman on Health and Science and was a member of the Select Committee for Science and Technology between 2003 and 2010. He is an active campaigner on libel reform, press regulation and human rights.

Dr Prateek Buch, Director of Public Policy, Sense about Science

Prateek worked as a research scientist at the UCL’s Institute of Opthalmology before joining Sense About Science as Director of Public Policy. He runs the Evidence Matters campaign, which seeks to ensure evidence is used effectively and transparently in public policy. He is also Director of the Social Liberal Forum.

Jane Brophy, PPC for Altrincham and Sale West

Jane is the Lib Dem PPC for Altrincham and Sale West. She works for the NHS managing programmes for health, exercise and nutrition for young children. She is an active member of the Green Liberal Democrats and campaigns for evidenced-based policies on nutrition, combating obesity, climate change and energy.

Chair: Diana Garnham, CEO, Science Council

Diana Garnham is Chief Executive of the Science Council. She is also on the Council of Nottingham University, a trustee of Sense About Science, the Spinal Research Trust and the Benevolent Society of Blues. She is an ardent campaigner for public engagement in science and for opening up science careers for all.