Andrew Robinson

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Andrew Robinson is a former leader of the Pirate Party UK, and was their 2010 Parliamentary candidate for Worcester.

Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response 2010

1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?

I'll preface all my answers with a quick disclaimer. The Pirate Party does things a little differently to most parties, we have a smaller manifesto than most, and we allow our candidates freedom to make their own minds up on other issues. Only question 10 actually overlaps with our manifesto promises, so for the other questions, I am giving my personal answers, rather than the party's position.

Back to the question: No. While the placebo effect does have it's uses, we must take very great care to avoid a situation where members of the public choose products that do not work over ones that do, because they have been given confidence in the non-working brand by a doctor's prescription.

2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?

I believe that pupils should educated about the difference between beliefs based on extrapolation from provable evidence and beliefs based on faith.

3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?

No. Ridicule is the best defence against religious extremism.

4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly?

Yes. Advisors cannot truthfully be called independent if they are muzzled by the very government policy their title says they are independent from.

5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?

No. Separation of church and state is a guiding principle that I think we would do well to adopt. Alternative systems should be allowed to flourish where they do not usurp the law of the land, but they have no place in the law itself.

6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?

I'd need to see your 'strict criteria' before giving a definitive answer, but I do broadly agree that animal testing is an unfortunate necessity in developing some medicines.

7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?

Yes. On these occasions, policy makers should make a special effort to understand why a counter-intutitive effect happens, because making good policy decision requires understanding, rather than guesswork.

8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?

Yes. Lattitude for policy makers must exist, but it should be lattitude to determine which criteria they are asking the scientific and medical community for a consensus on.

9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?

No.

10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?

Yes. We were (as far as we know) the first political party to formally adopt all the recommendations of libelreform.org, and the first to promise them in our manifesto.

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