On last night’s The Moral Haze Maze, in a discussion prompted by the news of a few recently, suspiciously-timed-leaked, confused E-mails, seized upon as apparently bringing crashing down the reams of evidence for man-made climate change, former devotee of I’ll-consider-that-evidence-in-accordance-with-what-I-believe-and-want-to-happen Thatcher, and now media darling Michael Portillo, said:

“… I think the great virtue that the politician brings to this is scepticism; in other words, scientists have to be recognised as being people who are corruptible. They’re corruptible by wishing to be proved right; by the funding that they get; by their vanity of being asked to appear on television ……. by being employed by Greenpeace; and the politician brings a scepticism to that; and the scepticism of the politician is borne of the fact that the politician has to represent all elements of society and not just one.”

Fast forward to 41:04, if you missed it and want to hear it for yourself. (Worth listening to the whole thing actually: not just because context is important, but because it also features as witnesses, Lewis Wolpert, and that busy fella Ben Goldacre.) Hmmm.

4 responses to “Scepti-schism

  1. I caught this last night. Wolpert and Goldacre were both excellent – Wolpert was particularly robust and clear.
    And then came Portillo’s utterly bizarre and outrageous statement. I reacted immediately on twitter. To quote:
    Portillo claiming scientists more corruptible than Politicians (who are also better at skepticism). Aaaaaaargggghhhh!?!

  2. Thanks for flagging this up, Lee.
    It was worth a listen, although I also thought Doh! at Portillo’s statement.
    His was not the only declaration that I did not agree with.

  3. Perception is all. If that’s the way (some) politicians view scientists, then scientists aren’t working hard enough to demonstrate otherwise.

  4. The whole response to these emails is so depressing. To paraphrase the great Phineas T Barnum (or possible H. L. Mencken):
    Nobody ever lost votes by underestimating the intelligence of the people.


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