Questions & Answers
On the 5th of May, in an email exchange with Al MacLeod, Ian gave the following answers to the Skeptical Voter questions.
1. Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven alternative "treatments" such as homeopathy?
- No, I fully support NICE. Treatments whether drugs or ‘alternative’ need to be verified before being available on the NHS.
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?
- I think that we need to be careful to allow freedom of expression and religious belief. However, all laws must apply equally to people of all faiths and no faith; therefore I do not agree with specific laws to protect religious groups.
4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly without fear of being sacked?
- Yes. It is important that we have scientist that are independent from government (I know it’s hard to hear views that you don’t agree with, but government needs to be sufficiently grown-up to cope!)
5. Should Sharia law be allowed as an alternative system within UK law?
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
- There seems to be much debate about this i.e. that there are many alternatives which are less cruel and more reliable.
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
- The simple answer is ‘Yes’, but I suppose it depends on what is at stake. e.g. with climate change, even though there was good evidence, it was worth seeking more as the stakes are so high… of course, now, the evidence is almost beyond doubt, so we should take drastic action, fast.
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
- Largely yes, but morality is also important.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
- No. The house of Lords should be fully elected.
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?
- I don’t know much about this, but my instinct is ‘Yes’.