A ban on state-funded academics using their work to question government policy

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ChaoticButterfly
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http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...-not-be-gagged
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Unless government officials make a major U-turn in the next few days, many British scientists will soon be blocked from speaking out on key issues affecting the UK – from climate change to embryo research and from animal experiments to flood defences. This startling, and highly controversial, state of affairs follows a Cabinet Office decision, revealed by theObserver in February, that researchers who receive government grants will be banned, as of 1 May, from using the results of their work to lobby for changes in laws or regulations.
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Observatory
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They will also be banned from supporting government policy, and not with their work, but with unrelated statements.
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Josb
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That's pretty disgraceful, but I don't understand how they can apply it. Grants are given by Research Councils, whose members are other academics. :confused:
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That Bearded Man
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Absolutely disgraceful. Damn the scientific community with its theories backed by data and evidence.
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Farm_Ecology
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Would this mean public bodies would be unable to come out and question the governments economic policies?

Does this apply to the shadow cabinet?
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Twinpeaks
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What the hell?

That is astounding.
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anosmianAcrimony
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Is there a petition I can sign?
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...-not-be-gagged
Spoiler:
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Unless government officials make a major U-turn in the next few days, many British scientists will soon be blocked from speaking out on key issues affecting the UK – from climate change to embryo research and from animal experiments to flood defences. This startling, and highly controversial, state of affairs follows a Cabinet Office decision, revealed by theObserver in February, that researchers who receive government grants will be banned, as of 1 May, from using the results of their work to lobby for changes in laws or regulations.
This is an inaccurate scare story.

Researchers are not being banned from lobbying government. Researchers are being banned from using government grant money to lobby government.

The new clause that is going in all grant funding agreements is this:-

The following costs are not Eligible Expenditure: Payments that support activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action.
The government points out that the DCLG has been implementing this clause for a year and although Shelter has signed up to grant agreements in this form, it hasn't stopped it from campaigning using other money.

Academic researchers rarely use public money for lobbying purposes in the conventional sense.

However one can see where it might affect them round the edges which it why they are looking for an exemption.

Firstly a research project wholly supported by a public grant, cannot use that money to put together a bid for another grant. That would be normal in the case of say, archaeology or medical research.

Secondly, one can see that there would be difficulty using grant money to financially support academic conferences or open access publishing of academic papers in areas of social policy and some areas of history.
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Observatory
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
Secondly, one can see that there would be difficulty using grant money to financially support academic conferences or open access publishing of academic papers in areas of social policy and some areas of history.
Is that necessarily the case? I do not see why academics cannot report that X policy will result in kittens and rainbows (a matter of fact) without saying that kittens and rainbows are desirable and that getting them overrides other concerns (a matter of political opinion).
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Puddles the Monkey
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nulli tertius

"Researchers are not being banned from lobbying government. Researchers are being banned from using government grant money to lobby government."

But... isn't that money coming from us, the taxpayer? Isn't the whole point of these grants to fund all scientific research, regardless of whether or not it supports government policy...?

I don't really understand completely I don't think
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Observatory)
Is that necessarily the case? I do not see why academics cannot report that X policy will result in kittens and rainbows (a matter of fact) without saying that kittens and rainbows are desirable and that getting them overrides other concerns (a matter of political opinion).
Last year the government gave a dollop of cash to catalogue part of the Labour Party archive under the title "Labour's Voice in Europe". It would be normal to conclude the project by organising a conference for the purpose of mutual backslapping and to draw potential users' attention to the resource. It would however be wholly unrealistic for the speakers at that conference not to pass comment on Labour's role in Europe.
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BeastOfSyracuse
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It doesn't say that their work can't question government policy, it says that they can't use government funds to lobby the government.

I would like to know more about the details, but on its face that doesn't seem unreasonable.
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BeastOfSyracuse
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(Original post by Observatory)
Is that necessarily the case? I do not see why academics cannot report that X policy will result in kittens and rainbows (a matter of fact) without saying that kittens and rainbows are desirable and that getting them overrides other concerns (a matter of political opinion).
I don't think this new decision bans academics saying that X policy will result in Y

What it does is prohibit them from using grants to lobby the government. I'd like to know more about the details but that doesn't seem totally wrong per se
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BeastOfSyracuse
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(Original post by Twinpeaks)
What the hell?

That is astounding.
(Original post by Farm_Ecology)
Would this mean public bodies would be unable to come out and question the governments economic policies?Does this apply to the shadow cabinet?
I don't think the poilcy is how the OP described it. The decision prohibits academics from using government funds/grants to lobby the government.

It doesn't prevent them from undertaking academic research that shows government policy to be wrong or misconceived
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BeastOfSyracuse
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
Last year the government gave a dollop of cash to catalogue part of the Labour Party archive under the title "Labour's Voice in Europe". It would be normal to conclude the project by organising a conference for the purpose of mutual backslapping and to draw potential users' attention to the resource. It would however be wholly unrealistic for the speakers at that conference not to pass comment on Labour's role in Europe.
I don't think the policy bans that.

The policy says they can't use government funds to lobby the government or policy makers. I don't see that this new rule would prevent academics from holding conferences with each other, or prohibit them from any kind of research that would show government policy to be wrong/misconceived
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Observatory
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(Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
I don't think this new decision bans academics saying that X policy will result in Y

What it does is prohibit them from using grants to lobby the government. I'd like to know more about the details but that doesn't seem totally wrong per se
That is what I am saying.

I see no problem with academics being unable to use taxpayer money to advocate political causes. I don't think this interferes with their ability to make scientific statements.

I do think there is a problem of whole fields - generally fields that are not scientific to start with - being taken over by ideologues and grant money being captured almost exclusively for political advocacy. This seems to have happened to English Literature in particular.
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BeastOfSyracuse
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(Original post by Observatory)
That is what I am saying.

I see no problem with academics being unable to use taxpayer money to advocate political causes. I don't think this interferes with their ability to make scientific statements.

I do think there is a problem of whole fields - generally fields that are not scientific to start with - being taken over by ideologues and grant money being captured almost exclusively for political advocacy. This seems to have happened to English Literature in particular.
English lit? I was unaware. I do know gender theory / queer theory and all that *******s are rife with this crap. As is linguistics (the baleful influence of Noam Chomsky).

I'd say a lot of queer theory papers are basically complete bo llocks. They just make up terms and build layer upon layer of abstraction on top of one another. They then debate with each other like medieval theologians based on this completely synthetic parallel universe they've constructed.

Reminds me of the Sokal Affair

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
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username1204031
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#18
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(Original post by anosmianAcrimony)
Is there a petition I can sign?
Petitions don't do anything. Write to your MP, and tell everyone you know to write to theirs.

****ing ludicrous. This is some real 1984 ****. You can really see who Rupert Murdoch supports from the fact that this is getting no attention from the scummy tabloids.
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Observatory
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(Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
English lit? I was unaware. I do know gender theory / queer theory and all that *******s are rife with this crap. As is linguistics (the baleful influence of Noam Chomsky).

I'd say a lot of queer theory papers are basically complete bo llocks. They just make up terms and build layer upon layer of abstraction on top of one another. They then debate with each other like medieval theologians based on this completely synthetic parallel universe they've constructed.

Reminds me of the Sokal Affair

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
It probably is *******s but even if it were good propaganda it is still propaganda, and shouldn't be funded by the taxpayer for that reason alone.
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Josb
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(Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
It doesn't say that their work can't question government policy, it says that they can't use government funds to lobby the government.

I would like to know more about the details, but on its face that doesn't seem unreasonable.
What is "lobbying" then?

Organising a petition? Signing a petition? writing in the press? on a blog? making a conference? talking on TV? writing a comment on Facebook or Twitter?

The law is very vague and could be a double edged sword:
In the future, the Labour Party may win the elections again; I do hope that sensible academics will be able to fully lobby the government if they tried to pass a law - for example - banning Islamophobia. With this law, they would have to remain silent.

You can't criticise SU morons who are against free speech at unis and support this law that would have the same outcome.
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