Colin Blakemore, the Oxford neuroscientist and Waynflete Professor of Physiology, begins his term as chief executive of the UK Medical Research Council today (October 1) by arguing that scientists should be rewarded for public communication, but warning that many have interests that could bias what they say.
The big issue to be addressed is public trust in science, says Blakemore.
"I think if you ask, 'Do you trust scientists?' in general, the MORI [Market and Opinion Research International] poll figures are rock solid with about two thirds of people saying, 'Yes,' as they have done for 6 or 7 years," Blakemore told
"But what is clear—and I think this is a very healthy sign—is that the public qualify their trust according to the type of scientist and the issue on which scientists are speaking. They trust academics, and particularly—curiously!—professors, more than they trust government scientists, and...