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Science Under Pressure: Restoring Public Confidence. Science, Scepticism and Free Speech series

May 29 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm BST


The Free Speech Union is delighted to host a series of lectures and discussions in partnership with  Sense About Science, an independent charity that promotes the public interest in sound science and evidence. 

Critical thinking, open inquiry and the freedom to question have been fundamental to the development of the scientific method and the expansion of knowledge. The ideal of objectivity and the goal of truth require the discipline to abstract itself from individuals, from interests and from sentiment, all of which may explain why science is always subject to pressures on its integrity. 

SCIENCE, SCEPTICISM and FREE SPEECH is a unique series of three events – two lectures from eminent scientists and a final session bringing together public figures concerned with the relationship between science, the public and democratic decision-making. Each session will include plenty of time for audience Q and A. 

You are welcome to attend the entire series or individual events. It will also be possible to join online. 

In-person tickets for each event are £10 for FSU Members, £16 for members of the public, £12 for under-25s.  

Tickets include a glass of wine on arrival. 

Zoom option: FSU Members can join free of charge (please see member emails),  others pay £5 per event. 



Science Under Pressure: Restoring Public Confidence 

Wednesday 29th May, 7.30pm

In-person tickets

Public online tickets (FSU Members should register using links provided in FSU emails).

In this concluding conversation, our two speakers, Tracey Brown, Director of Sense about Science, and Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Sceptic, will reflect on the issues raised in the earlier lectures and debate how the relationship between science and the public might be improved. When does healthy scepticism become a refusal to accept well-evidenced truth? How can we uphold science without succumbing to ‘scientism’? How can the public distinguish between relevant expertise and those who merely have strong opinions and loud voices? 


About our speakers 

Tracey Brown OBE is the director of Sense about Science, where she has turned the case for sound science and evidence into popular campaigns, including AllTrials, a global campaign for the reporting of all clinical trial outcomes. Tracey leads Sense about Science’s work on transparency of decisions, to ensure the public has access to the same evidence as decision-makers. This has included drafting the Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice, and the Transparency of Evidence framework, now internationally emulated. In 2022 she led the What Counts? inquiry, and a national survey of the public’s experience of policy information during the pandemic, calling for all policy announcements to meet an evidence transparency standard. Tracey is honorary Professor, Science, Technology and Engineering in Public Policy at UCL.  


Toby Young is the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, a non-partisan, mass membership public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members. He co-founded four schools and a multi-academy trust in West London, served as a Fulbright Commissioner and is the author of four books, the best known of which is How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2001). He is an associate editor of the Spectator, where he’s written a weekly column since 1998, and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Sceptic. He was formerly an Associate Editor of Quillette and is the author or co-author of three peer reviewed academic articles. 




May 29
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm BST
Event Categories:


The Free Speech Union
020 3920 7865
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The Art Workers’ Guild
6 Queen Square
London, WC1N 3AT United Kingdom
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