Monday, 2 November 2009

Looking Behind The Professor David Nutt Headlines

I was listening last night to BBC’s Five live which had a heated discussion on the Stephen Nolan phone in about the sacking of Professor David Nutt (UK's chief drugs adviser) by Alan Johnson. On the show was Lib Dem MP Evan Harris trying his best to explain why this is wrong. This has been well covered on the Blog’s and news media. However I think there is confusion within the public because as with most things in politics its not always easy to follow the minor points as they get lost in the headlines and anger.

Many were calling the professor’s findings wrong however I think some of the callers really missed the point.

The point is that no matter what your personal views are on drug policy, its wrong to sack an adviser when they have given their expert advice based on a number of scientific studies. This is not about the policy of the government its about the independence of scientist advicers.
Professor David Nutt is an academic and therefore should be free to lecture on his findings and conclusions and to write about them in the scientific press. If an MP decided to follow the advice there is nothing wrong with that as policy is not just based on science but also public ethics and wiliness to carry out advice. But you don’t sack an adviser because you disagree with their findings or their advice.

Also its worth remembering that in science not all studies will show the same result. Its about a number of studies bring the findings to an overall consensus on what they mean using logic.
The five live podcast can be found here

Face book protest group for David Nutt called ‘Support and Reinstate Professor David Nutt: We want an evidence based drugs policy’ can be found here

Not Yet out of the Woods covers the science behind the debate here and looks at the policy making of the Labour government on this topic here
Tory Bear Rocks the boat as he looks at polling on this issue
Left Foot Forward has a Rebuttal of Melenie Phillips Daily Mail Column who backed Alan Johnson's decision.

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