Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response
1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?
On the terms in which the question is asked, no. But where the effect is better than the "placebo" effect, then maybe.
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
As part of religious education but not as part of science classes.
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?
I believe in freedom of expression and therefore that pretty much everything should be legally open to ridicule. However, just because something is permitted doesn't mean it should be done - insulting people's religious beliefs is often bad mannered and can be hurtful and therefore I don't view it as particularly admirable for its own sake or others' amusement.
4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly?
If truly "independent" then of course. If not really independent then also "yes" but then they have to take the legitimate consequences. If I pay someone to do a job for me I don't expect them to undermine me - it's up to them to decide whether their conscience permits them to continue doing so - if not they can leave and say what they like. Of course this is complicated by the fact that government money is ultimately the public's money.
5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?
No, we have our own system of law and that is the law of the land. Of course that doesn't mean that we can't learn from other systems and, where the legislature considers it appropriate, it can pass laws informed by other systems.
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
Yes, but sometimes it is simply the most economic and in such circumstances we must avoid unnecessary cruelty.
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
Science is based on challenging the evidence and upon empiricism. Simply because something intuitively seems right does not mean it is scientifically true. However, and climate change is a good example, these things are usually not cut and dried - it is necessary to rely on the best scientific evidence available.
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
No, I think there is also a moral aspect and this cannot be determined by scientists or any medical consensus.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
Yes, they are effectively representatives of large parts of our community.
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?
I think so, but I'm not quite sure how it could be drafted so as not to throw the baby out with the bath water. As I recall, the public interest defence is only vitiated by malice and why would one want to allow people to maliciously to defame others? That said, maybe the definition of public interest could properly be extended.