Science elites move to block UK exit from EU

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A statement today from the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, reacting to yesterday’s vote to leave the European Union, calls for the government to do whatever it can to nullify that exit.

Professor John Zarnecki, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, commented: “We must remember that whatever happens, science has no boundaries. It is vital that we do not give the message, particularly to our younger colleagues, in the UK and beyond that our country is not a good place in which to do scientific research, however uncertain the economic and political environment is.

“I have been privileged during my career to have worked in a research environment in Europe which has had few borders for either people or ideas. We must strive to make sure that these rights are not taken away – this would be enormously to the detriment of UK society.”

The statement includes a laundry list of benefits that membership in the EU brings scientists, including lots of funding to pay the salaries of these scientists. The statement also insists that all these benefits must be maintained, despite the will of the electorate.

While many of these benefits (easy travel between nations) are beneficial and a reason to have a European Union, the electorate understood that the benefits have been increasingly outweighed by the heavy regulatory burden imposed by the EU, with no democratic recourse allowed.

Articles in the science journals Science and Nature, here, here, and here, also note the distress and opposition by scientists to yesterday’s vote.

This unwillingness of the elite community to accept the will of the public is part and parcel to the same bubble I found in Washington when I attended the CNAS conference. Unfortunately, I see no evidence of a willingness in the elite community to bend at all to the will of the general public, meaning that we can only expect the conflict between the top and the bottom to intensify in the coming years. The question will be whether our institutions of democracy will be able to withstand that battle, especially when those in power continue to find their power being attacked from below.


  • wodun

    It is telling that the academic elites, who survive off the money taken from the populace, have total disrespect for the very people who make their way of life possible.

    A little gratitude, understanding of the inputs and outputs of the funding equation, and respect for other people would go a long way. Holding the general populace in contempt certainly hasn’t been working out very well for them.

  • ken anthony

    The feeling of the elites is it’s only pennies per person so what have they got to complain about? They ignore that these pennies add up to over half of peoples incomes in many cases. But why should people eat when there’s science to be done?

    I try to save about 20% of my income, but all that does is pay for my occasional big expenses. None really applies to my future.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams


  • LocalFluff

    Many brilliant astronomers are completely stupid when it comes to politics and economics. Some even moved from the US to Stalin’s Spviet volutarily. They seem to confuse political law with natural law. They seem to imagine that if gov decides to ban e.g. guns, then magically all guns disappear. They do not understand that there is a whole social and practical process, involving use of force, that follows on any law and regulation, and that it often has unexpected consequences due to the incentives it gives. They are used to just conclude what the world is like and they think that politicians do the same when they make up new law, but creationally like God. I wonder how astronomers handle all those nigerian emails which they of course also must belive is the truth because they are written.

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