Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sycophantic Scientific

I have been puzzling for months about how the Royal Society was unable to take a hint when it came to deciding whether to elect Prince Andrew a 'Royal Fellow'. The official result of the ballot of the 1300 or so members was:

For: 147
Spoilt ballot papers: 24
Blank ballot papers: 1
Abstentions: 1128
(There was no 'No' box on the ballot paper!)

Sycophancy obviously springs to mind. Then today, I came across what DC's Improbable Science had to say about it under 'A right Royal cock-up. Prince Andrew elected to the Royal Society'. That page goes into the affair in greater detail than is appropriate for this blog. Next to the story however, there was rather aptly and amusingly a link to Calquhoun's Lectures in Biostatistics (1971). This is perhaps especially apt and amusing given that a Royal Society spokesperson had noted that 85% of votes cast supported the prince's election - as this was justifiable statistical support. Perhaps he would like to download the book. There is also something apt about the Royal Society's motto: Nullius in verba - which may be translated 'take nobody's word for it'. So I think that the spokesperson can be roundly ignored.