Archive for politics

Richard Dawkins on ABC’s Q&A

Posted in News, Philosophy, Spirituality with tags , , , , on March 12, 2010 by cpolsonb

This past week Richard Dawkins appeared on the ABC program Q&A to answer some predictably heady questions. For those of you who don’t know Q&A is a weekly panel program where questions are posed to the panelists from the live studio audience or via the internet. The members of the panel change each week with some occasional repeats. Topics discussed vary greatly between weeks but if it’s a burning social, political or philosophical issue you can bet it’ll be featured on Q&A. It was really great of Richard Dawkins to accept his invitation to appear on Q&A, he must be aware that his reputation will precede him no matter where he goes and that he’ll often be fighting an uphill battle. Nevertheless he strides brazenly straight into the enemies line of fire and comes back safely having taken no prisoners.

For those of you in Australia you can watch the episode in full from the ABC website by following this link: ABC iViewNow unavailable

Everyone worldwide can still watch the episode in this slightly poorer quality version found here: Vidoemo

The other panelists alongside Richard Dawkins were the following:

Patrick McGorry – Australian of the Year
Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio
Tony Burke – Minister for Agriculture
Julie Bishop – Deputy Opposition Leader
Steve Fielding – Family First Senator

If you’re curious about the questions that were asked, here is a complete transcript of the questions. You’ll have to watch the show to hear the answers though…

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Newsflash! Kevin Rudd Believes in Science!

Posted in News with tags , , , , on February 15, 2010 by cpolsonb

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.