Jun 30 2008

Science – good or bad?


I’ve been inspired to start this blog for a number of reasons.

1. A wee while ago I wrote a letter to a paper about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which was making its way through the Westminster Parliament. While Cardinal Keith O’Brien had been given 20mins on Radio 4′s World at One and plenty of column inches, there was no one to represent my rational, science-based views. This was the basis of my letter. The first comment I got on the newspaper’s website read:

“Sadly, being a woman, you will be as rational as the catholic faith itself and as for science based views? Yeah, you mean what you read in Heat or Star magazine.”

Now of course, this gave me epic lols. But seriously, can you imagine a man getting a comment about his gender when he was reacting to a non-gender issue?

2. As a feminist, you are often being confronted with biological determinist arguments: ‘women simply can’t read maps – its been proven’, ‘women are genetically predisposed to liking pink’ etc etc. Given the piss-poor level of scientific reporting in the press, these arguments are used to further demean women and feminist analyses of oppression. These stories are every bit as bad science as homeopathy, but they also impact on women’s inequality.

3. Being involved in the pro-choice movement and again, lobbying on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, it became clear that the scientific evidence supported our cause but was being drowned out by emotional, religious and socially conservative interests. Science won out this time, but it will always be under attack from those who can count on the scientific ignorance of the majority of the population (and our political representatives).

4. I emailed Ben Goldacre to rant about some bad science I came across but weeks after it happened and so he couldn’t follow up on it. Instead he suggested I set up a blog and do it myself.

Er, OK then.

So misogynistic comments on the internet, the need for feminism to engage with science, the need for defenders of the Enlightenment to analyse the science used against women and the fact that I should start taking some initiative on this, all culminated in me starting this blog. I hope you enjoy.