Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response
I'm Scottish Green Party candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith, and I regard myself as a skeptic and secularist. I would say I stand somewhere within the skeptical wing of my party, but find myself well able to support party policy from that viewpoint.
1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?
Personally, absolutely not. However, SGP policy mentions homeopathy as an example of services which could possibly be provided by the NHS "where appropriate". I feel that the where, in that case, would be nowhere. As an individual, I'm a supporter of the 10:23 campaign and took part in the Edinburgh homeopathic overdose.
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
No. SGP policy opposes state funding of faith schools, and believes that religion is a matter of personal conscience; the teaching of unproven religious belief has no place in the science curriculum. I'm very happy to support that position. As a parent, I would defend my children's right to be taught fact not fantasy in science class.
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?
No. Freedom of speech is vital. While it needs to be balanced with people's right to live free from harrassment, we need to be very clear about the difference between ridiculing religion and harrassing people on the grounds of their religion.
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. Science flourishes when there's open exchange of information. Forbidding scientists and other experts to express their views is counter to the principles of good research, and we should have policy based on the best research.
5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
It has been and continues to be. I support minimising animal use in research, and strict controls on how animals are used (as indeed happens now), but I think such research will continue to be necessary. SGP policy says that we will "work for the abolition" of animal experimentation; I interpret this to mean through minimisation and replacement wherever possible.
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
Policy should be informed by research, and policy-makers need to have sufficient skill to evaluate scientific evidence that they are working with. If they judge the methodology to be appropriate and rigorous, and know of no conflicting evidence, then they should trust the evidence before them.
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
No. I think abortion is a choice for the pregnant woman and nobody else, at whatever point in pregnancy. SGP policy doesn't seek to change the current time limits, which are in line with the current scientific and medical consensus.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
The House of Lords should be wholly elected. If religious leaders are elected to it, they should be allowed to vote, but under no other circumstances.
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?
Yes. I'm a supporter of Sense About Science and Simon Singh's case. However, we're a Scottish party which believes in legislation being made by the representatives of those affected by it.