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Scientists and politics?

The lower legislative chamber of the United Kingdom’s Parliament has 650 members, but only one (0.15%) has a science Ph.D. This seems like a surprisingly small number in a mature democracy. About 0.8% of people in the United Kingdom have a science Ph.D., so it appears that science is seriously underrepresented. I suspect it is the same the world over. Why is this, is it right, and what are the consequences?

There is, fortunately, an increasing focus on making governments representative of the diversity of the population they serve in terms of gender, race, and sexual orientation. But diversity also needs to embrace different intellectual approaches. The structured thinking and disciplined methodologies of science add to diversity, but these are aspects that can challenge vested interests. The blunt, socially insensitive, scientist speaking truth to power is certainly a caricature, but it is sufficiently real to warrant careful management by governments. There is also often suspicion that scientists operate their own agendas.

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