TheyWorkForYou questionnaire response 2010: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/person/11692/richard-gadsden
Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response 2010
[1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?]
1. Nothing can be definitively said to be proven or unproven, but there are medical treatments for which there is robust evidence, and medical treatments for which there isn't. I think NHS money should not be spent on any products for which robust evidence of efficaciousness is lacking. Homeopathy, in particular, is purely placebo and I see no reason why taxpayers' money should go on expensive placebos.
[2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?]
2. Schools certainly should teach creationism as an example of how badly the scientific method can be misunderstood and misinterpreted, but it's not an equivalent to evolution; in simple terms, one is wrong and the other is right.
[3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?]
3. Nothing should be legally protected from ridicule. Religious people should be protected from attacks that might lead to violent attacks, but the existing laws on incitement to violence are probably adequate; if not a general offence of incitement to violent hatred should replace the specific laws on religion and race. The point at which the incitement is violent is a long way past mere ridicule.
[4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly?]
4. Independent Government advisors should not be expected to agree with government policy and should always be entitled to make their disagreements public. Indeed, a wider and freer public debate - on all subjects, not just the scientific and legal ones that the government generally has advisors on - should be much more normal in British politics in general.
[5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?]
5. Sharia and Beth Din courts should have the same rights as any other private system of justice, like arbitration; they can be used to settle disputes with the consent of the parties, but any settlement that does not comply with the general law can be appealed to a public court.
[6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?]
6. Testing on non-human animals is sometimes necessary in the development of medicines and it seems to me that the current ethics committees do a very good job of deciding whether it is necessary or not.
[7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?]
7. Politicians should especially distrust scientific evidence that is not counter-intuitive. If it completely agrees with all of your preconceptions, then it's much more likely that you will miss the errors in it. But politicians should not entirely abdicate decision-making to scientists; to absolutely and implicitly trust what is said by someone who claims to be a scientist runs the risk of falling for pseudoscience. Still, the scientific method is the best method known for getting at the truth, and should be respected for that; politicians without scientific training should respect scientific advice from experts who do have that training.
[8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?]
8. If abortion time limits are set on the basis of viability, then the scientific and medical consensus is the correct method for setting that time limit. However, I believe that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy at any point, but that the medical/scientific consensus should be used to determine whether that termination should be by abortion or by inducing a birth.
[9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?]
9. The House of Lords should be an elected body; religious leaders should be able to stand for election the same as anyone else.
[10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?]
10. I support wholesale reform of the Libel Laws in this country to prevent Libel tourism and stop the stifling of rational debate by vested interests with lots of money. This does not just apply in a scientific context (like Simon Singh's case) but in all contexts. I'm a Liberal and believe in, and actively enjoy, free debate.