Speaking Truth Unto Power*

* The original quote, “Speak truth to power”, is thought to have been coined by Bayard Rustin in 1942 and referred to the role of religious groups.[1]

Science plays an increasing role in modern society, identifying problems and then developing and testing solutions – climate change being a prime example. Individual scientists often make discoveries, but professional/scientific societies are arguably more persuasive in influencing practice and policy.[2] The Nigerian Academy of Sciences orchestrated the country’s successful programme to contain the Ebola outbreak according to Andrew Green, writing in the Lancet.[3] He gives further examples of successful policy interventions prompted by African Academies. The CLAHRC WM Director was reminded of the iconic advice, often attributed to Germaine Greer, “Don’t complain, organise.”

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Green J. The Origin of the Phrase “Speaking Truth to Power”. [Online].
  2. Wilson B, Thornton JG, Hewison J, Lilford RJ, Watt I, Braunholtz D, Robinson M. The Leeds University Maternity Audit Project. Int J Qual Health Care. 2002; 14(3): 175-81.
  3. Green A. African science academy initiative reflects on progress. Lancet. 2014; 384: 1836.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s