Does Corbyn have a science problem?

It has recently come to my attention that Jeremy Corbyn may be harbouring a number of views that suggest a disconnect with reality on scientific matters.

The first is his belief in homeopathy. On 5th March 2010 he tweeted the following: “I believe that homeo-meds works for some ppl and that it compliments ‘convential’ meds. they both come from organic matter..”. The idea that the reason medicine works is because it comes from organic matter is a deeply flawed understanding of how science works, and should worry any supporters of the man. He has also signed some parliamentary early day motions hailing the success of homeopathy in the NHS. He also signed an EDM saying that we should “place homeopathy research on the national agenda as a credible scientific field of inquiry.

Secondly, Corbyn is against nuclear power. In his Protecting our Planet document, Corbyn says that “new nuclear power will mean the continued production of dangerous nuclear waste and an increased risk from radioactive accident and nuclear proliferation.” Thankfully Lisa Nandy, his former Shadow Energy Secretary, managed to put forward some pro-nuclear arguments to cancel out Corbyn’s irrational fear of nuclear. It might be worth someone pointing out to Corbyn that air pollution from fossil fuels cause 50,000 early deaths a year in Britain alone.  Compare that with the one nuclear accident in the UK that caused around 30 deaths from cancer, and that was in 1957 when the first generation of reactors was being developed, which have no where near the level of safety that can be found in modern Gen III reactors.

The anti-nuclear policy raises a third question about Corbyn’s commitment to stopping climate change, or even his belief in it. Corbyn has said he was in favour of re-opening the mines, but in a carbon neutral way. It is unusual for a politician on the left to promote the carbon capture methods of dealing with fossil fuel use rather than a complete move away from them. Furthermore, Corbyn’s brother, who does not believe that man is behind climate change, has the following to say on whether Jeremy thinks it is humans causing the problem: “I think the situation in the Labour party is that Jeremy has to follow Labour policy and Labour policy includes support for climate change action, within which the climate change idea makes very clear as the science changes then the measures should change, which means now is the time for debate. Now, my brother is very much in favour of debate and I totally support his leadership of the party and I look forward to more debate on this issue.” For the record, there is not debate. There is broad scientific consensus that it is man causing the problem.

Finally, Corbyn rebelled on a number of pro-GM foods measures in the house of commons. That said, I cannot find any explicit comments that Corbyn has ever made on the issue, so it’s not completely clear what his position is on them.

It is up to those around Corbyn and his supporters to make it clear to their leader that such an anti-science set of beliefs are problematic and he needs to educate himself on these important issues.


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