Views And Reviews

The professor and the politician

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 24 August 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3972
  1. Rachel Clarke, specialty doctor in palliative medicine
  1. Oxford, UK

If this seems like a silly season Twitter spat, it isn’t. It’s deadly serious

In taking to Twitter to challenge Stephen Hawking’s scientific appraisal skills, Jeremy Hunt accidentally ignited not only the incredulity of the scientific community, but also one of last weekend’s biggest news stories.1

The media gleefully seized upon this act of “mansplaining” so audacious it deserved its own word. The health secretary—a man with no scientific training whatsoever—“Huntsplained” to the world’s greatest physicist that his grasp of scientific evidence was lacking.

Evidence, its misuse, and NHS morale are all inextricably entwined

In his speech to the Royal Society of Medicine, Hawking argued that politicians’ tendency to cherry pick evidence to suit their political ends debases scientific culture.2 Hunt, Hawking claimed, was guilty of precisely …

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