Yet another Queensland Liberal National Party halfwit, Terry Young, elected to parliament by the Longman electorate in the most recent election, has clearly demonstrated he believes his ignorance is equivalent to others’ knowledge. This he did in his maiden speech in the House of Representatives, part of which is reproduced here:
“As an everyday Australian myself, I can say: we want our children to go to school and be able to hear all points of view presented to them and make up their own minds. The greatest gift human beings have is the gift of free choice. Indoctrination of any type robs our children of this gift. That also has to change. We want our children and grandchildren to hear the theories of evolution and creation, different religions, climate change advocates and climate change sceptics. I can say: what we don’t want for us and our kids is to be brainwashed with extreme left or right ideologies.
When I hear a school principal stand up at school assembly and say: ‘If this government doesn’t do anything about climate change, the world will end in 2030,’ I get angry, because we should not indoctrinate our kids with fearmongering. They need to be taught personal responsibility and what their part is in looking after our planet.”
As an aside, Young of course neglects to name the school principal he supposedly heard stating that the world would end in 2030 if the government did not do anything about climate change. One suspects that it is, like much of what comes out of the mouths of conservatives, equine ordure.
Young is stupid enough to believe that the thousands of climate research scientists and their many thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and the compilation of the results of that research into the several reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are simply an opinion and that someone as ignorant as him can decide not to believe it. This is staggering in its ignorance and for him to conflate this with free choice, is simply mind bogglingly ridiculous.
His call to teach evolution and creationism is a common refrain which comes from the United States, and has largely missed Australia except in mind-numbingly religious schools where children are indoctrinated into a belief system at odds with reality. In all cases in the US, with which I am familiar, the attempt to teach creationism and its watered-down version, intelligent design, has been struck down because evolution has been shown to be based on science, whereas creationism and intelligent design have been shown to be religious beliefs, and teaching that goes against the establishment clause in the US Constitution2.
If science was simply a matter of opinion, then does he think in geography, children should be taught that the earth is flat or spheroidal? Does he think that in science classes children should be taught that the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa? Does he think that in history classes children should be taught that Apollo 11 landed on the moon or that it didn’t? Does he think that in geology classes, children should be taught that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old or 6,000 years old? In economics, should we teach economic reality or that the Coalition are good economic managers and the economy is in good shape.
Free choice is about whether you want white wine or red with dinner, not about what science you like. You do not get to choose which science you believe just because you do not like some of it. I find the quantum theory of matter particularly unsatisfying. Its uncertainty principle which limits the precision with which quantities can be measured, and its wave-particle duality3 simply do not make sense to me (my Ph.D. is in geology). However, that does not mean I would prevent it being taught in schools. The reason I wouldn’t do that, is because I am not an idiot. Neither am I a particle physicist so I am inexpert in such an abstruse field and do not pretend I understand it. I leave that to the professional scientists who do understand it. Like me with quantum theory, Young clearly has no understanding of climate science, but unlike me he has hubris enough to think his opinion matters. If we let ignorant buffoons like Young dictate what is taught in schools, rather than those who actually understand the relevant topics, Australia as a modern nation state is doomed. The planet will not be doomed; it will certainly go on for another several billion years, it’s just that large swathes of the life occupying it may not.