Science isn't woke, but it is political

The U.K.’s science minister vowed to kick “woke ideology out of science”. While it might sound like a sensible policy to keep science and politics apart, in practice that’s impossible. Many key decisions in science require an appeal to moral and political values, argues Stephen John. But it shouldn’t be the government policing which values are acceptable.


Science minister Michelle Donelan’s speech to the Conservative party conference stated a bold aim of “kicking woke ideology out of science”. These remarks were in the context of a complex culture war around sex and gender, but they raise intriguing and important questions, relevant well beyond this case: can science be free of ideology? And should it be? 

Here’s one way of understanding Donelan’s remarks, suggested by her claims to want to “depoliticise science”: “woke” science is bad

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