Published on June 29, 2010

Reith Lecture calls for scientific citizens and dialogue

In his address for the BBC’s Reith Lectures, the President of the Royal Society, Lord Martin Rees, calls on scientists to engage more widely with government, the media and ordinary people.

His lecture The Scientific Citizen addresses the relationship between the public and science. Rees is convinced of the need for the public to be engaged on the applications of sciences in society.

Rees argues:

“what’s crucial in sifting error and validating scientific claims is open discussion…Even wider discussion is needed when what is in contention is not the science itself but how new findings should be applied. Such discussion should involve all of us as citizens and of course our elected representations, not just the scientists.”

The lecture is wide ranging, addressing many of the major public controversies in science from the recent volcanic ash cloud to the GM crisis in the 90s. In closing, Rees sets out his vision for society’s relationship to the big issues in science:

“Everyone should engage with these choices, but their efforts must be leveraged by scientific citizens. Scientists from all fields of expertise engaging from all political perspectives with the media and the public attuned to the scope and limits of science.”

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