‘Impact’ to impact a little later if ever

The Science Minister David Willetts, who recently gave a speech outlining the government’s vision for science in which he cited science as good for growth, has announced that he plans to put off implementation of the controversial Impact assessment in awarding scientific grants. Impact would have looked at the economic benefits of any research, but scientists take the view that in blue skies research the impact can’t be measured in advance, sometimes not even in hindsight. Willetts echoed this view and has pushed back the timeline for implementation from 2013 to 2014 to allow time to assess whether any Impact assessment acceptable to the community is actually viable.

Meanwhile the cultural impact of science and improving scientific understanding generally has also been in the digital news. This interview between the American Geophysical Union and Jennifer Ouellette discusses the transfer of knowledge between Hollywood and physicists. Yes, it occasionally happens as one time Hollywood adviser Professor Brian Cox will testify. However, in this article, Ben Goldacre looks at one of the psychological barriers to science; the ability to gloss over holes in research conforming to one’s views and point out the same holes in opposing research studies.

Just one of those things that scientific training can be used to avoid whereas ideological or faith training hopes to use.


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