Science & Policy- The case of roadside drug testing

At this weeks Friday seminar Sean O’Halloran will discuss his PhD research on

Science, Policy and Roadside Drug Testing

The story of the implementation of legislation dealing with the effects of drugs on road safety is an interesting case study at the boundary of policy and science. The story helps to demonstrate that science is not always the dominant influence in political decision-making, even when scientific issues affect the assessment of the problem or the presentation of solutions.

Technocratic assessments of risk are necessarily balanced by public perceptions of risk, where politicians are under pressure to act, or at least be seen to act, to combat perceived threats to community health and safety. Traditional expectations of scientific expertise are also challenged by a ‘democratisation’ of expertise, where ‘appropriate’ scientific evidence is considered more important than ‘reliable’ scientific evidence.

Rhetorical strategies for communicating the many scientific complexities surrounding the effects of drugs on road safety also help to demonstrate the framing of risk, not only in the context of road safety, but in many other contexts – GMO, climate change, uranium mining, nanotechnology and the like. Risks associated with illicit drugs are often framed in value-laden and emotionally charged language where science is co-opted to legitimise problem framing and legitimise unvalidated technological solutions.

Location:_ Seminar Room, [1]CLT, Physics Building UWA Time & Date:_ 4-5pm Friday 7th April, 2010 Drinks and Nibbles Provided_ Links: 1.

Next Week_: Greg Colgan from the one of Australia’s leading documentary production companies, [2]Electric Pictures, will discuss the science television market, show examples of science films and workshop documentary ideas. Links: 2.

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