Dr David Robert Grimes, a DCU Applied Physics and PhD graduate has been awarded the 2014 John Maddox Prize for courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty and hostility in doing so.
David, currently working at University of Oxford, was awarded the Standing Up for Science Prize for writing bravely on challenging and controversial issues, including nuclear power and climate change. He has persevered despite hostility and threats such as on his writing about the evidence in the debate on abortion in Ireland. The Prize is a joint initiative of the science journal, Nature, the Kohn Foundation and the charity Sense About Science. The late Sir John Maddox, FRS, was editor of Nature for 22 years and a founding trustee of Sense About Science.
Dr David Robert Grimes, University of Oxford: “The paradox of our time is that while access to information on every topic imaginable has never been easier, this same freedom allows complete falsehoods to perpetuate further and faster than ever before. In everything from politics to healthcare, evidence is too frequently jettisoned, distorted or ignored to suit ideological biases, and misconceptions surrounding issues of science and evidence are incredibly detrimental to finding pragmatic solutions to the problems we face as a society; challenging these misunderstandings and confronting misinformation may often feel like a Sisyphean task, but it is vital. I am deeply humbled and honoured my contributions to public discussion on evidence-based policy have been recognised by such pioneers.” -
Emily Willingham, a US writer, was also awarded the Prize for bringing discussion about evidence, from school shootings to home birth, to large audiences through her writing. She has continued to reach across conflict and disputes about evidence to the people trying to make sense of them.
Professor Colin Blakemore FRS, Universities of London and Oxford, and judge: “The number of applications for the John Maddox Prize continues to increase. We were impressed to see how many scientists are not just publishing their papers and teaching their students but taking their understanding of science outside the laboratory. It’s great to see researchers standing up for the significance of their own research, even if it brings them into conflict with business interests, political opposition or even the opinions of the scientific establishment. What made the two winners this year especially deserving is their work in many areas of public debate and their commitment to the general principle that manipulation of evidence for financial gain, personal prestige or political prejudice is not acceptable. And both of them have pursued their passion for the truth, despite hostility and abuse.”