News: Interview: Dr Simon Singh
With Bristol set to take a stand for science on Saturday, keynote speaker Dr Simon Singh has voiced his fears of the dangers facing society and why silence is no longer an option.
The Somerset-born bestselling writer won a BAFTA for his documentary about Fermat’s Last Theorem and has spent 25 years trying to explain the wonders of science to the masses and why he believes it plays a crucial role in good decision-making.
He will join people from all walks of life in Bristol to mark the global Earth Day (April 22) with a rally in Millennium Square to celebrate science, open up debate and engage future generations.
“We have got climate change debates that are on a fine balance – we need to make some serious decisions and move forwards not backwards,” Singh told Bristol24/7.
“We have Trump who seems to have very little time for science, especially on matters of climate change, but also on vaccination.
“I would say in the UK, the Government is doing better in terms of using evidence but it’s got a long way to go. This is the chance to remind people that science is crucial. If we do not stand up for science and remind people how important it is, there is a danger of going backwards.
“I think the dangers to science are many. I put bad journalism near the top. I was a journalist, I worked for the BBC for a long time, but sometimes it makes an interesting story to bend the truth or just report one half of it. That’s one of the biggest dangers because this is what people read to get their information and then politicians can follow that.
“Politicians are short term people, they think about the next five years, whereas scientists are worried about what’s happening in 10, 20 or 100 years time.
“In the past, scientists tended to sit and moan but I think in the last few years, scientists have realised that we need to get involved with public debate and talk to the general public and share our information and take on board other people’s perspectives.”
Singh grew up in the West Country and said he is delighted to come to Bristol as a city at the forefront of scientific excellence and engineering.
He added: “I’m worried about the general moaning about experts in the UK as scientists are the ultimate experts.
“Britain has always punched above its weight in terms of scientific research and discovery, it’s one of our proudest achievements. We need to continue investing in research and encouraging the next generation of scientists and also encourage people to come to this country and share their knowledge.”
Bristol March for Science is organised in collaboration with At-Bristol and is part of a worldwide movement of marches to celebrate the role science plays in everyday life.
Starting at 11am in Millennium Square, there will be a pre-march rally with speakers also including TV naturalist Chris Packham, At-Bristol’s creative director Anna Starkey, and scientist and journalist Dr Suzi Gage.
Read more: Bristol to March for Science