The growth of populism has led to a widening of rights and power of the people to question all elites – those holding leading positions not only in politics, but also in the media, arts and science. It is essential that those working in science and academia facilitate a deeper public understanding of the complexities of evidence. This is particularly acute given the increasing use of rhetoric or unrealistic proposals, including the questioning of scientific evidence, by those wishing to gain and retain popularist power.
With climate change being demoted to “weather events” by the US administration and Bank of England economic forecasts being labelled “Project Fear”, public understanding of the scientific process, the complexities of data analysis, and the often ambiguous, even opaque nature of scientific findings, is needed more than ever.
In the first of two panels exploring these complex issues, Emily Wilson, Editor of the New Scientist and Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive, British Science Association will discuss and debate with Prof Sarah Harper (Oxford Institute of Population Ageing) and the audience on communicating science in an era of increasing populism.