He gained an MSc in Pure and Applied Physics from UMIST, before turning to electronics engineering.
Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response
1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?
No - NHS money should be used for advancing proven scientific techniques. Homeopathy however could be evaluated via a suitable research council (EPSRC perhaps) subject to peer-review of the research programme. If the outcome of the fundamental research is +ve only then should MRC, NIHR or similar funds be released.
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
No. As I told the Religious Education Campaign Group, religion is a personal and private matter, and should not be taught in schools. I am opposed to state funding of religious schools, but would not prevent private ones.
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?
Difficult - as there is a dividing line between valid critique and unacceptable use of that critique to pursue a discriminatory agenda. So in general I think that religious groups should not have specific protection (e.g. blasphemy laws) , but they are allowed protection against unreasonable comment or prejudice (e.g. Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism are often thinly veiled use of the right of 'free speech' to criticise religion to promote racism).
4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly?
Depends upon their position. If they are engaged in an advisory role only they can, if they are engaged in a more official capacity whereby they can be represented as a 'spokesperson' for that branch on Government then no (e.g. chair of an advisory panel). Same for Ministers and elected politicians, if you do not agree with the main policy, then you should have the honour to resign.
5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?
Yes for civil affairs if both parties agree to it - after all that is what the British System of Common Law is based on. Citizens have the right to enter into any contract between themselves as they wish, be that Sharia, Beth Din or a shake of the hands in the pub. The statutory law exists to protect individuals from any unreasonable contract.
I would object to the imposition of a religious ruling on me, thus I would also object to taking away the right of religious people to act by their code between themselves.
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
Yes for some areas of medical research - but we must still pursue research into replacement and reduction
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
Depends how good the science is surely?
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
No - this is a social issue too. I would oppose any reduction in the time limit, and this debate must be in context of providing sex education for all, and access to contraception.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
The House of Lords should be wholly elected, perhaps using a open Regional List form of PR
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?