Led By The Science

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the UK government has stated that its decisions have been "led by the science". This pithy phrase may imply there is a body of knowledge from a consensus of scientists that provides a road map of what to do to stop the pandemic. But there isn’t.

And if decisions made by politicians turn out to not work, then who gets the blame? Is it the science?

While some scientists have willingly appeared in support of the actions announced, many researchers are furious with the way that the government has used science. They point out that scientists from different disciplines have different expertise to bring to the discussions about what to do in a pandemic caused by a novel virus.

Public health doctors say that their experience of local communities has been ignored in favour of mathematical models.

Virologists feel their knowledge of how infection works has been sidelined.

Psychologists believe the government has taken the idea of 'nudge' as the only way to understand the behaviour of the population.

Scientific knowledge changes through debate and discussion, in particular when we are confronted by a novel situation. Philip Ball explores the relationship between science and political decision-making in the pandemic.

  • Producer: Alex Mansfield for BBC Radio 4

Publicity contact: RM2

DateTuesday, 11 August 2020
Time8:00 PM -
8:40 PM