An open letter to Lord Drayson

A brief email I've just sent to Lord Paul Drayson on a minor comment he just made during the excellent debate he had with Ben Goldacre earlier this evening at the Ri. Whilst this topic is funny, the genuine fear I've seen in people means that I must mention it.

Dear Lord Drayson,

Firstly, congratulations with the debate. I think you raised some very valid points. Furthermore, I commend you for reaching out via such debates and twitter.

However, I feel I must quickly raise an issue I had with a comment you made at the end of the debate. Just minutes ago, you declared that the media's coverage over whether the LHC could pull the Earth into a black hole was a GOOD thing. You suggest that it got people 'interested' and 'thinking' and that this 'sensationalism' was good for science.

I must strongly disagree. I have a PhD in Physics and as a result, during the course of my work (and in the course of my blog) I have had to explain, comfort and reassure numerous members of the public that they were not under threat from Physicists stepping on the toes of the gods. People have come to me explaining that their children were in tears and couldn't sleep with fear. Whilst we all found it funny, It was not a joke to them.

I might even go further and suggest that you believe that these outrageous statements are justified because deep down no one really took the media's story seriously. In doing so, you are relying on the very same mistrust of the media that you earlier claimed did not exist.

Whilst I do not wish to inflate the importance of this issue, I do feel you should know the pain it caused a small minority of people and the issue this presents for mainstream media. The coverage of the LHC was lacking. I shall be posting this email as an open message on my blog tomorrow.

Best Regards,
Bill

Just a comment about the blog, it's NOT dead. My excuse is that I have been suffering from severe 2nd degree burns on my leg and foot and so have been in and out of hospital for FAR TOO LONG now. As I get better the site should come back to life.


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Ouch, hope you feel better soon.

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