Reasonable doubts

September 26, 2003

When accusations are flying around that environmental scientists or environmentalists "sex up" their findings ("No grey areas in a green's world", THES, September 19), the issue of trust comes to the fore.

The Natural Environment Research Council strives to uphold the independence of the scientific process and the impartiality of scientists.

But it is not sufficient to publish results as bare facts. It is the duty of scientists and their funders to interpret the results and to engage with the public and policy-makers over any concerns.

It is tough to get the balance right between "nothing to worry about" and "we're all doomed", but there is never a case for knowingly overstating the significance of our results.

If we do, we will lose public trust, as your article suggests has happened to the non-governmental organisations. Scientists should leave campaigning to the campaigners.

David Lynn
Director, science and innovation
Natural Environment Research Council

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