Newsflash! Kevin Rudd Believes in Science!


This little gem of a news article was found hiding in a corner on page 6 of the February 1 edition of ‘The West Australian’. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia believes in evolution! To be perfectly honest I found myself quite conflicted over this morsel of an article and a flip-flopped across a couple of emotional responses. I thought I’d write a brief blog entry about it to try and clear my head and see where my chips land. I’ll start off with emotional response number 1:

Number 1: What the heck is with the headline?
I mean seriously? “PM talks about an evolution”… Is that the best they could do? Do headline writers really need to milk a pun out of every tidbit of news? Or perhaps I’m over thinking this and instead of a horribly lame pun it’s actually just an editing blunder.

Number 2: Awesome! Kevin Rudd is a champion!
How cool it is to have a Prime Minister leading us who speaks out so vocally in support of evolution. There are likely a few Prime Ministers in our history who would never have done such a thing (although politics is not my strong suit). There are certainly many American Presidents *cough* Bush Jr/Snr *cough* who would only say such a thing if it were ‘opposite day’. I admire also his choice of words, straightforwardly declaring it “empirical science”. I fear there were many newspaper readers to whom the word “empirical” drew a blank, caused more by lazy science standards than low iq. But yes, good on your Mr. Rudd, evolutionary theory has been fundamental to great innovations in science and technology, big tick in your science column (now let’s see some more money for R&D)

Number 3: What? This is news??
Why is it that the leader of my country believing in Science is newsworthy? Surely this should be a given, surely we expect those who lead our countries to understand basic principles of scientific fact? Kevin Rudd even doubting evolution should be front page news (barring world disasters), “shock! horror! How could we elect a man with such a loose grasp on the facts!?” they cry over our leaders suspected doubt of evolution… Oh how I long for the day when such a scenario would be the case. How would it seem if a newspaper ran an article reporting that the Prime Minister apparently believes in gravity? Or the germ theory of disease? Silly I should hope…

Where I settled
I think my reasoned response is somewhere in between both extremes. Yes it is fantastic and reassuring that Kevin Rudd believes in evolution (and defends it so strongly) but it is also a shame that this needs to be newsworthy. Like all politicians and indeed all people there is also plenty to not like about Kevin Rudd. Over this issue at least, an issue which is very close to my heart I nod my head respectfully in his direction. Compared to the kind of tripe that can pass for news these days, even these 8 lines are a blessing. In a world where The West Australian homepage has a lifestlye, entertainment, travel, opinion and sport section but no science, I’ll take what I can get and sing it’s praises to the heavens.

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