Monday, November 21, 2011

Geoffrey Boulton: No regrets about Russell enquiry

Prof Geoffrey Boulton
This evening Professor Geoffrey Boulton gave a lecture on "Why and How should Science be Open" at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  He is Chair of a committee of the Royal Society London Study which is investigating Science as a public enterprise.

It was a largely unexceptional talk where he urged more openness by scientists and explored some of the limitations there might be.  The meeting was part of a public consultation on the project and so there was a lengthy question and answer session with a panel.

He responded to one question with the following comment which may be of interest to some:
"The structures (of the scientific community) of which many of us are a part have some pretty fierce ways of dealing with those benighted souls who disagree."
That evoked a question in my mind.  I read the above quote back to him and asked:
 "Some of those at the cutting edge of new media science (blogs to which he had referred) may well consider that that quote describes how they have been treated.  Do you have any regrets about your participation in and conduct of the Russell enquiry?
Well his response was clear enough.
He added something to the effect that there was no need to say any more.

For those who observe Professor Boulton's career with interest there were a couple of points of note:

  • He is no longer Secretary of the RSE - see here for the current Executive Board.
  • In passing he described himself as no longer being Vice-Principal of Edinburgh University or, indeed employed by the University.  

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