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Based at The University of Edinburgh, the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum is part of the ESRC Genomics Network and pioneers new ways to promote and communicate social research on the contemporary life sciences.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

"A playwright? Be serious!"

The other reaction I’m getting is from the other pole of this sphere…from the scientific types with blue sparks emerging from their frontal lobes (which includes my own brother, actually) looking at me with deep scepticism…a playwright?...engaging with genomics?

That’s nice, they say…dismissing the idea as a bit of cross-cultural-public- engagement- blah blah blah-box ticking.

(They’re far too nice to SAY that, of course.)

And they go back to their work. Back to “reality”.

Hang on…I say…(or I’m saying now)…I’m here to learn things.  I’m here, first and foremost to read and to listen…

And anyway, I don’t think you can divorce the personal politics of moral values, from scientific discourse…you can’t put moral questions and scientific questions into discreet monadic boxes…any more than who owns the copyright on my chromosomes is none of my business.

I don’t think that scientific work can ever be divorced from the society it happens in, any more than play writing can.  I think a public understanding of science is more than a tokenistic shibboleth for getting the funding application approved…I think it’s an imperative.

Policy on matters scientific isn’t any less democratically accountable because science is hard for non-scientists to understand.

Gawd…I work in the arts, and if that’s true for us, it’s true for you.

Even more importantly, I don’t think we can arrive at any coherent moral arguments about anything unless we take account of the best thinking available about how things really are.

Values and reality cannot be allowed to remain opposed as though they were mutually exclusive. We can’t leave values to the fundamentalists.  If for no other reason than because that would leave “reality” to the amorality of the global marketplace.

I won’t have it.  Either way.

So you’re stuck with me.  Here now.  Bothering you.

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