EDITORIAL: Elected leaders need hard data

A new organization in Victoria dedicated to urging politicians to base decisions on sound science is a welcome addition to B.C.

That’s not to say we would be better served by a more technocratic approach to governing, in which scientists and engineers make decisions now made by elected officials.

However, we live in an age marked by an overwhelming availability of information. With that, many of us have become numb to the bombardment of junk-science and have also over-valued the merits of celebrity endorsements and personal testimonials.

It’s harder and harder to separate the hard facts from data that looks like facts – especially when it’s about an issue that affects something as precious as our personal health. It’s also troubling that there are so many people ready to counter scientific arguments by fabricating their own data, extrapolating falsehoods from facts or condemning anything that doesn’t support their case as evidence of conspiracy.

Scientific Victoria does not hold a monopoly on the truth (something which we hope they’d be the first to admit). However, the small organization’s ideals are worthwhile.

Nationally, a group of scientists who work in the civil service have created a website, PublicScience.ca, dedicated to making sure political decisions made at a federal level are based on sound science.

The public, through our elected representatives, must continue to make the decisions that affect our lives. And while some decisions will continue to be made because they feel right, we also need to know that at the heart of our political agenda, we’re doing the right thing based on sound evidence.

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