Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Scientific Support for Democracy

The independence of the BBC is sacrosanct and one of its most important attributes. Its independence adds considerably to democracy.

I'd like to see an Independent Science Commission, publicly funded and beyond political bias, charged with getting the evidence and getting to the truth. It should be kept separate from any political party.

Parliament may request that the Independent Science Commission study any particular issue (perhaps triggered by the Interactive Democracy system). The ISC would typically conduct a critical study of the data from previous studies before deciding if further research is required. They would report the evidence in strict scientific terms and without opinion. Reports could be published on the Internet for peer review and public comment.

The ISC should be staffed by experienced and professional scientists and conducted with scientific and statistical rigour. The head of the ISC should be appointed by a cross party parliamentary commission to avoid political bias and may be asked to swear allegiance to the principles of science, much like the police are asked to swear to uphold the law.

The ISC may commission and manage other scientists to conduct studies in specific areas where it hasn't the equipment or staff available to carry out the research itself, but the reports arising from such contracts would be approved and published by the ISC.

Apart from dealing with empirical evidence, statistical analysis would be an important role of the ISC.

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