Act against politicians who undermine science: Scientists to MP's
A group of prominent scientists called on the media and the lower house of the Dutch parliament to "take an even stronger stance" against politicians who abuse parliamentary immunity to "make unfound accusations and suspicions against scientists." They said this in a letter in the Volkskrant signed by over 300 scientists, including Outbreak Management Team (OMT) member Marion Koopmans and oncologist Rene Bernards.
The group's immediate reason for their letter is the 13 minutes a parliamentarian got last week "to call a prominent scientist in government service a liar, accuse him of corruption, and insist on his resignation." The MP in question was unable to substantiate any of these statements, despite requests from fellow MPs, according to the scientists. They did not name either the scientist or the parliamentarian. But according to the Volkskrant, it is FvD parliamentarian Gideon van Meijeren who accused OMT chairman Jaap van Dissel of being "corrupt."
The signatories said that this was not an incident but "another superlative insult to scientists by a certain part of parliament." They point out that these kinds of insults and accusations also increasingly happen in the public domain and have been the order of the day on social media for some time. "While research indicates that trust in science is still high, these developments undermine that trust," they said.
The scientists believe that the systematic attacks on science and scientists have consequences. "The polarizing tone of the debate and the spread of misinformation has contributed to some turning away from vaccination, unnecessarily exposing people to the risks of Covid-19 and dying from it, while vaccination can reduce the risk of death by at least 90 percent." In addition, some scientists now even need protection, the letter writers said.
Reporting by ANP