Science for all

The UK government-commissioned Science for all expert group has published its report and action plan, which is available from the websites of the British Science Association and Department of Business Innovation and Skills. There is also a discussion forum on the BIS site.

Chaired by Roland Jackson, chief executive of the British Science Association, the expert group was tasked with developing an action that would build on the “Science:[So what? So everything]” campaign, develop a coordinated public outreach framework, and get the public more involved in the science and technology policymaking process.

I have yet to finish reading the 42-page report, and so am not in a position to comment in detail on its content. For now I merely flag it as something potentially of interest, and point you in the direction of the consultation forum. That said, I have glanced at some of the proposed actions, and, while the recommendations have merit, I cannot help thinking that the biggest problem in bringing science to the masses is cultural.

You can talk until the cows come home about serious web portals and social media sites, but in Britain today the most effective promoters of science in the media are a small group of standup comedians who with brilliance and imagination employ their television and radio appearances to place important scientific issues in the public consciousness. And they do it in a way that is likely to stick in people’s minds.

This is something that cannot be socially engineered, reliant as it is on individual creativity. Just like science itself, for that matter.