Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response
1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?
NHS money should only be spent on treatments for which there is a convincing evidence base demonstrating their efficacy.
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?
Ridicule is a strong word. I do not think that ridicule is easily justified. But religious belief should not be protected from criticism or from being the target of humour. It should be treated equally to any other belief.
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! The clues are in the words 'independent' and 'expertise'. (Luckily, David Nutt's sacking did more to get his views publicised that his being on the advisory committee would ever have done.)
5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?
No. It is important that the same system applies to everyone.
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
No. There may be some specific situations in which it could be justified, but a general statement that it is necessary is too sweeping.
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
Only if there is a strong evidence base (e.g. multiple replicated studies showing the same result, rather than just a single small-scale study). Scientists have a duty to communicate the level of trust and consensus in their findings. Sadly, some promote their own single-study findings outwith the context of the whole body of research to which they relate. (I speak as a scientist myself.) Intuition has merits, but one could equally validly ask whether policy-makers should trust intuition even when it appears to contradict the evidence.
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
If the question is referring to legal limits, then yes, I am not aware of a better basis for determining these.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
No! (Unless they happen to have been democratically elected to be there in a future scenario when the second chamber has become a democratically-elected body as per Green Party policy!)
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?
Yes. The law clearly needs review and reform.