What science is up against…

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Must See: Science Under Attack

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I’ve just belatedly watched the excellent doco by Sir Paul Nurse, new President of the Royal Society, in which he has a look at why science is often mistrusted by particular groups and perhaps the public at large.  Thanks BBC2 and SBS online – watch it here while you can, or on Youtube here.

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Conspiracies everywhere

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I don’t know which annoyed me more: Piers Akerman’s editorial here, or the ridiculous comments which followed from his loyal readers.

The former is bad enough: Piers with his mal-adjusted conspiracy circuitry firing relentlessly. This deep-seated phobia of the ABC is difficult to fathom. What is it that he and his Akerlytes are afraid of? Hard questions? Does he not understand that the Greens have been democratically elected? What is this intense hatred all about? That they have ideas and priorities different to his? Get a grip mate.

Clearly, he is afraid of balanced discourse – my comment to his blog was not published. So why the moral outrage regarding lack of balance at the ABC?

Instead, we see this tiresome flood of me-toos parroting the same inanities. And what about all this support for Monckton? Did any of them listen to that interview? Spencer was simply trying to establish Monckton’s credentials to back up his assault on the world of science, and all Monckton could do was offer faux outrage at the line of questioning. It was as if he really was a Lord. Simple evasive techniques to avoid getting to the truth. I don’t blame Spencer one bit for his handling of the interview.

Then again, he does work for the ABC, and is an enthusiast for science. I bet he votes Green. Therefore he must be part of the world conspiracy to deprive Akerman and his Akerlytes of all that they love about this world – fiscal responsibility, exclusion of dissimilar faces, bloated mining companies, and highly concentrated media interests.

But the most moronic thread in the comments was the call to shut down the ABC. One correspondent listed the programmes he wanted to keep, which included the Country Hour (yawn), and Macca on a Sunday morning. The former I can take or leave. The latter IS an abomination, taking okkerism and trivia to new heights, as Macca takes us on a self-indulgent tour of all places dusty. Yes, by all means, let’s keep those gems.

But ditch the ABC? Really? I guess then we could rely on those old favourites for our news and analysis: Current Affair / Today Tonight, and, the Rupert Murdoch press.

That would make you happy, wouldn’t it Piers?



Re-tweet: Cane toads of the air thrive on stupidity

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I came across this article last week, and wanted to pass it on in whatever the blog equivalent of re-tweeting is… re-blogging perhaps?

In any case, it’s an outstanding article from Elizabeth Farrelly, who writes a column in the Sydney Morning Herald, amongst other things. I particularly enjoyed how she summed up my feelings on these often irrational, self-serving and self-important shock-jocks, of which Alan Jones is the archetype. To quote a couple of particularly nicely-put paras:

They are the cane toads of contemporary culture: ugly, ubiquitous, toxic to most other life forms and adept at using their peculiar behaviour to force change in ours.

It’s not so much that they’re rude, lowbrow or just plain wrong, although these, too, are often the case. The most destructive effect of the shock-jockariat is the poisoning of the logic-well itself; followed by the incremental death of the argument tree that is root and branch of intelligent civilisation.

However, I must say Elizabeth does cane toads a disservice. These poor creatures are just trying to make their way in life, having been introduced into our country some years ago as a means for defeating pests having a crack at cane fields in Queensland. At least they had some purpose, and their behaviour since that time in trying to colonise this great land is understandable, and in fact quite logical.

In contrast, the behaviour of their human counterparts is almost impossible to understand. Even harder to understand is how so many readers/viewers/listeners get taken in by these people – perhaps there is a percentage of the population that just wants someone to do the thinking for them, and simply outsources it to the shock jocks. Not sure. This is especially frustrating when they portray themselves as armchair experts – as is the case with Jones regarding climate change, not to mention Bolt on nuclear engineering. These guys are clueless, really. It’s even more galling when their opinion can be bought, as was the case with Jones and Laws in recent years. These guys didn’t even have the courage or honesty to let their listeners know they were being paid to spruik banks, airlines, telstra and whatever else.

That’s another advantage cane toads have. They’re honest about what they’re doing. And probably more highly evolved.

When ‘balanced’ reporting just won’t do

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I guess I shouldn’t complain when reporters try to do the right thing by going for ‘balance’ in their reporting, reflecting viewers’/readers’ belief that there are two sides to every story. Otherwise, we end up with puff pieces which can be nothing more than advertorials (see earlier writings on Elmore Oil here and here – and stand by for some new developments in my investigation of it!). Read the rest of this entry »