Salt, pepper and chilli: How science advice ‘flavours’ the political process

Photo courtesy of Wlodi/flickr.
Photo courtesy of Wlodi/flickr.

Science advice is like seasoning, said Kenneth Prewitt of Columbia University at the recent ‘Interfaces of Science and Policy and the Role of Foundations‘ conference.

‘Salt’  = the answers provided by science to specific questions set by government.

‘Pepper’  = the contributions of foundations and think tanks, who bring science to government and can broaden the scope of the conversation, but in setting their own agendas have biases.

‘Hot red pepper’  = the contribution of corporate entities, which are inherently biased, but can still add value.

For Prewitt, the challenge for each country’s system of science advice is to flavour the political process with the optimal mix of these seasonings.

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