Jan 072009

Ideological wars never really end, do they?

The angst between the right & left here in Oz is as fierce as it ever was at the height of the Howardian reign. Evidence this little beauty which bobbed to the surface in today’s Oz. The so-called left striking back at the so-called right in the most vehement and venomous way possible. In the right’s own flagship publication, Quadrant, a bogus article purpose designed as a bullet into the credibility heart of conservatism has appeared. A snippet:

By now the reader might understandably be asking, “But if these gene sequences are indeed identical or almost identical to those in other creatures, why engineer with human genes at all? Why not use a gene sequence from another creature?” Ah! This is the labyrinthine science that the news media—with its emphasis on brevity and lay language—simply cannot explain. Short answer: because it’s easier, less expensive and less risky.

Why human genes should be included into plant genomics, leading to a slight against the current government for not exercising more fiscal stimulus in the direction of such R&D. All utter bullshit, as identified in the Oz article. The doyen blog of the left, the obliquely named ‘Lavartus Prodeo’, is having a field day. I dare say Bahnisch thinks it’s Xmas in January. I think it’s uproariously funny, given that Keith Windshuttle, the target of the article, raged with governmental support during the Howardian reign against what the right called the ‘black arm band view" of Australian history and culture. This is payback of the most poetic kind and far more subtle than Windshuttles overt, abusive and insulting rhetoric regarding the opinions of his peers on the other side of the ideological fence.

It appears that Windshuttle doesn’t appreciate being ragged from pillar to post, especially by Crikey and Margaret Simons.

Crikey has now put Simons’s article online. Crikey editor Jonathan Green should be aware that his publication’s involvement in the manufacture of this story is unethical. Any printed or online publication that accepts freelance contributions, as both Quadrant and Crikey do, is vulnerable to the same tactic. All such publications have an obligation to their readers to do a basic job of fact-checking, which Quadrant did in this case. The incidents, authors, publications and institutions in the article in question all checked out accurately. However, there is a point beyond which such sub-editing practices cannot go, especially when dealing with an author’s discussion of the detailed content of several books and their footnotes. There comes a point at which all publishers have to take their authors on trust. I would have thought that Green might understand this. At this point, all editors are equally vulnerable. Green should counsel his writers on the meaning of the term beat-up and inform them that when a publication gets a reputation for such practices, it loses its readers in droves.

One would think a supposedly reputable publication like Quadrant might actually check to see if Dr Sharon Gould existed at all, let alone validate the content of the article published. It appears Quadrant, and editor Windshuttle simply accepted the article on face value. More likely because it hit all the right ideological notes, in the spirit Ern Malley and Alan Sokal. This is why, reader, it behoves us all to form our own opinions on issues of import based on as much data and factual information as we can get hold of ourselves, rather than simply follow the piper because the music sounds enchanting.

  2 Responses to “and in the Blue corner…..”

  1. Couldn’t have happened to a better target. His skewering is the more egregious because of his wriggling since being exposed. It recalls the new old adage, “If I hadn’t believed it, I wouldn’t have seen it..”.

  2. Couldn’t have happened to a better target. His skewering is the more egregious because of his wriggling since being exposed. It recalls the new old adage, “If I hadn’t believed it, I wouldn’t have seen it..”.

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