The recent sacking of UK government drugs policy advisor David Nutt showed that politicians are quite happy to ditch scientific advice when it is not expedient.

If scientists acquiesce to this kind of treatment – and happily they haven’t, as demonstrated by the cascade of resignations prompted by the Nutt case – they weaken their position on issues such as climate change.

Sometimes scientists have to be willing to stand up to those who would seek to subjugate or sideline science. Often the only people well enough informed to understand the consequences of not taking scientific advice seriously are the scientists themselves.

In these situations, scientists have a duty first to the taxpayers who funded the research, not necessarily to the government.