Calls for the closer integration of science in political decision-making have been commonplace for decades. However, there are serious problems in the application of science to policy — from energy to health and environment to education. To address these problems this article suggests to improve policy-makers' understanding of the imperfect nature of science through the understanding of 20 key concepts. An understanding of these concepts promotes improving interpretive scientific skills which allow policy makers to intelligently interrogate experts and advisers, and to understand the quality, limitations and biases of evidence. These skills are more accessible than those required to understand the fundamental science itself, and can form part of the broad skill set of most politicians and other professions. These concepts should be part of the education of civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists — and anyone else who may have to interact with science or scientists. Although this article is geared towards politicians, it provides an outstanding summary of how to talk and inquire about science and technology issues for anyone involved in technology at pretty much any level.

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