Can scientists speak freely? Well, apparently not

Here is a recent blog-post from St A colleague and Chief Science Advisor for DEFRA Professor Ian Boyd (DEFRA is the UK’s environment and agriculture governmental department).

Can government scientists speak freely?

The post is the text of a speech given to the Science Media Centre at the end of last month. I’m afraid I find it rather chilling. In particular, I am aghast at the “we must not be naughty schoolboys” tone of the last paragraph, reproduced below.

“Overall, government institutions find a good balance between supporting scientists’ freedom to speak, if they want to, and holding them to account if they break the rules of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. I am impressed by the way in which government scientists in the UK listen to advice, intelligently assess the risks and the moral arguments and come to their own decisions about how to behave.”

[Shakes head…] Freedom to speak, if we want to…?

Oh dear.

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