Of Australia’s 226 federal parliamentarians, only 15 have a qualification in science or engineering. That’s the starting point for Science & Technology Australia’s efforts to get a copy of the The Geek Manifesto on every one of those politician’s desks.
The number of politicians with science or engineering backgrounds should come as no surprise and neither is it entirely or intrinsically worrying. What is worrying is their willingness to make highly technical decisions without either understanding the science or even listening to the scientists. Which leads to getting them a copy of The Geek Manifesto:
Because even though politicians aren’t obliged to make every decision according to the available scientific evidence and nothing else, they definitely should make sure they take scientific advice on issues when it is relevant – and let’s be honest there are few public policy issues where it’s not.
The Geek Manifesto explains why science matters. In his agenda-setting book, which was written in the UK but makes points that hold universally, Mark Henderson…
builds a powerful case that science should be much more central than it is to government and the wider national conversation. It isn’t only that scientific understanding is passed over as decisions are made; the experimental methods of science aren’t applied to evaluating policy either.
Politicians, Henderson argues, pay lip service to science for a very simple reason: they know they can get away with it. And that will change only when people who care about science get politically active. It’s time to mobilise the geeks.
The same program was run in the UK and the politicians are at least claiming to have read the book, in amongst explaining the cool stuff they are doing. In this day and age it’s hard not to be an old-school cynic about our politicians, perhaps especially in Australia where education and thinking are often despised. But that’s not a reason not to try.
Will this make a difference? Well the only answer is to try, look at the results, adjust your ideas and method and try again. That’s the scientific way.
So if you want to join in you need to visit Science & Technology Australia and buy a book for them to take to Canberra – you even get to choose which politician you want it delivered to. Sadly, there’s no way to tell which politicians have already been ‘claimed’ although I can tell you Joe Hockey is getting a copy from me. If you just want to read the book yourself then you can find it on Amazon here.