Silencing Science

Silencing Science

The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima ... the Fonterra botulism scare ... the Christchurch earthquakes – in all these recent crises the role played by scientists has been under the spotlight.

What is the first duty of scientists in a crisis – to the government, to their employer, or to the wider public desperate for information? And what if these different objectives clash?

In this penetrating BWB Text, leading scientist Shaun Hendy finds that in New Zealand, the public obligation of the scientist is often far from clear and that there have been many disturbing instances of scientists being silenced. Experts who have information the public seeks, he finds, have been prevented from speaking out. His own experiences have led him to conclude that New Zealanders have few scientific institutions that feel secure enough to criticise the government of the day.

What are BWB Texts?

BWB Texts are short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers. Spanning contemporary issues, history and memoir, new BWB Texts are released regularly, and the series now amounts to well over fifty works.

All recently published BWB Texts can be purchased in print and digital formats using the ‘Buy’ or ‘Preorder’ buttons on this page. You can also subscribe to the series – a great gift idea! Find more information about subscription offers here.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: May 2016
Pages: 128
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9780947492847
ISTC: A022016000000076
DOI: 10.7810/9780947492847

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Steve Matthewman, Book Review: Silencing Science, New Zealand Sociology, vol.32, no.1 (2017), pp.115-119.

'Are New Zealand's scientific experts really dead - or just resting?' Shaun Hendy, The Spinoff, 4 November 2016 

'NZ Politics Daily: 15 recent stories about democracy and integrity in New Zealand', Bryce Edwards, National Business Review, 25 August 2016

'Book Review: Silencing Science, by Shaun Hendy', Emma Johnson, Booksellers NZ, 14 July 2016

'Are New Zealand's scientists too scared to say what they think?', Elizabeth McLeod, Education Review, June 2016

'The risks of muzzling science', Doug Edmeades, NZ Farmers, 14 June 2016

'NEWSMAKER: Why are scientists so silent?', Farmers Weekly, 2 June 2016

'Gagging science: "It's worldwide"', Jamie Morton, New Zealand Herald, 8 June 2016

'The slippery slope on corruption', Barry Coates (Green Party), Indian Weekender, 26 May 2016

Shaun Hendy on RDU 98.5FM, 24 May 2016

'Silencing Science by Shaun Hendy', Rebecca Priestley, NZ Listener, 16 May 2016

Professor Shaun Hendy talks to Rukuwai about his book, Silencing Science, Te Hiku Radio, 17 May 2016

'Shaun Hendy - Silencing Science', Shaun Hendy and Siouxsie Wiles with Paul Henry, RadioLive, 15 May 2016

'Peter Griffin: Science community needs to engage with media', New Zealand Herald, 12 May 2016

'Silencing Science', Veronika Meduna, Radio New Zealand, 11 May 2016

'Silencing Scientists: Shaun Hendy on why science should be 'open'', Shaun Hendy on Nine to Noon, Radio NZ, 11 May 2016

'Silencing Science: in the long run, openness is the better strategy', Peter Griffin, Sciblogs, 10 May 2016

'Is funding dependency stifling science?', Shaun Hendy with Mark Sainsbury, 10 May 2016

'The high public cost of muzzling scientists - Shaun Hendy', Science Media Centre, 9 May 2016

'The high public cost of muzzling scientists', Shaun Hendy, Stuff, 9 May 2016

'Scientists gagged by funding fears, says professor', Jamie Morton, The New Zealand Herald, 9 May 2016

'Science, muzzled', Shaun Hendy on Q + A, OneNews, 8 May 2016

'Prominent scientist talks about Silencing Science', Jamie Morton, The New Zealand Herald, 8 May 2016


'Not so many generations ago, you were commanded to believe the sun orbited the earth, and could lose your head for stating (correctly, almost) the scientifically verified opposite. Freedom of thought has advanced considerably since then. Hasn't it? After reading Shaun Hendy, one begins to wonder.' Clive Trotman, Otago Daily Times, 11 July 2016

'In Silencing Science, Professor Hendy concludes that New Zealand needs a Parliamentary Commission for Science to forge a new relationship between scientists, policy makers and the public to ensure that science is never silenced.' Jacqueline Rowarth, NBR, 1 July 2016

'Silencing Science, by physics professor Shaun Hendy, looks at the ways in which the public interest and the pursuit of truth are corrupted by commercial and political interests.' Steve Matthewman, Book Review: Silencing Science, New Zealand Sociology, vol.32, no.1 (2017), pp.115-119.