Open letter on The Cabinet of No Credibility

Dear Nick Champion,

I’m writing as a member of your electorate concerned with the attitude of our new Federal Government; its attitude towards climate change in particular, and towards science in general.

Specifically, both the axing of the Climate Commission and the dissection of the science portfolio, signal at an early stage, this new Federal Government’s capacity to treat scientific research and education as expendable casualties of culture war. The composition of Tony Abbott’s cabinet further reinforces this view, with extreme ideologues gaining quite a few choice positions.

That this has occurred shouldn’t surprise anyone. Rather, it’s a reminder to be vigilant. People may have suspected that the election of an Abbott government would see a return to culture war, but the fact that so soon into its first term, with no prior announcement, and with zero debate of the merits, drastic action has already been taken, allows such suspicions to now be treated as confirmed.

Ulterior motives, not grounded in research or scientific consultation, and not subject to due scrutiny, are clearly the guiding lights of The Abbott Government when it comes to science. From where I’m standing, when it comes to science, Tony Abbott has assembled a Cabinet of No Credibility.

There is little doubt we will see talking points from the Australian Right’s cottage industry of gadflies and pseudo-intellectuals elevated to the status of principles-to-be-acted-upon, while also with little doubt, there will be little room made for these talking points to be debated or properly subjected to scientific inquiry. The senate will surely have its hands full.

Not that I want to insult players of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, I think your observation about the credibility of the assembly of extremists in Canberra in 2011 is likely to hold true for our new Federal Government; they will treat discussion of science as a fantastic game.

Subsequently, I have enclosed a twenty-sided dice in the hope that you are able to gift it to our new government in protest. Perhaps it could help them roll-up some better policies. I hope this is not too much of an imposture.

Yours sincerely

Bruce Everett

Addendum (1st October, 2013): The twenty-sided dice is used in, and an icon for, fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons.

The end of the Howard Years

Celebrate!

I’m trying to suspend my critical nature to enjoy this momentous occasion. I’ll be applying philosophical skepticism to our new Government well before they step into the first session of parliament, have no doubts about that. I expect the same of most of my progressive peers. I just think that after going through and arguing against some of the excesses of Howard’s years we should be able to sit back for a little while and enjoy the moment.Sit back and enjoy the glow.

  • The Howard Government is gone. Forever.
  • Costello isn’t going on to lead the Liberal Party (Go Turnbull!)
  • The Windschuttles of the culture wars will be unlikely to continue to receive special access to our public institutions such as the ABC
  • After what was a brave battle by the ex-PM, he is likely to lose the seat of Bennelong and Australia is likely to gain Maxine McKew as an MP.
  • Despite the apparent loss of Kerry Nettle, the Greens have polled strongly (congrats to Ludlam, Hanson-Young and of course Bob Brown)*

All in all, not a bad result. I’m glad my predictions of a Liberal victory by way of marginals was wrong.

~ Bruce

* Yes, I know that Family Firsts Jeff Buchanan will remain an obstacle to progressive and secular social reform. We need to keep an eye on him. But let’s continue to enjoy the glow for now.

Creationist crankery flashback: Richard Dawkins stumped?

Recently, I saw a clip on YouTube that uncharacteristically, twinged a feeling of de ja vu but not an actual recollection (uncharacteristic for me; I can usually recall something if I have a memory of it). It was an interview with Richard Dawkins.

Suffice to say, I couldn’t recall the background so I was left to form opinions based on what knowledge I had at hand at the time. I was going to blog about it and point out some mistakes in the implicit message as well as in the triumphalism of the creationist response.

I’ve recently come across accounts of what happened (the missing background information) so the penny has really dropped (add to that there now seems to be a mass YouTube response pointing out the fraud). However, I’ll post the video, then my previous thoughts, before dumping the background story on you.

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