Scientists awarded for tackling controversial issues

The 2014 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science has been awarded to Dr David Robert Grimes, a physicist at the University of Oxford, and Dr Emily Willingham, a science journalist in the US, in recognition of their work to confront misinformation and tackle controversial subjects.

The annual prize was established in 2012 by the UK organisation Sense about Science to recognise scientists who have shown courage in bringing science and evidence to the public despite facing adversity and hostility.

David Grimes writes about difficult and controversial issues, including nuclear power, climate change and abortion. Freelance journalist and researcher, Emily Willingham, whose passion is “presenting accurate, evidence-based information”, has written on topics such as autism, school shootings and parenting.

Both winners persevere despite receiving abuse and threats. Emily Willingham is also facing a lawsuit for an article about the purported link between vaccines and autism.

Professor Colin Blakemore from the Universities of London and Oxford, who sat on the judging panel, commented “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.”

The Prize is named after John Maddox, editor of the science journal Nature for 22 years, who strove for better public understanding and appreciation of science. The Prize is a joint initiative of Nature, the Kohn Foundation and the charity Sense about Science and is open to nominations from outside the UK.

For further information about the Prize see the Sense about Science website


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