You may have noticed in recent years that the use of the epithet ‘unelected experts’ is becoming more common among the covid-19 deniers and climate change deniers. The apotheosis of the unelected non-expert, Gina Rinehart’s Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has tried to spin a Pew Research Centre survey, which showed that 88% of Australians believe representative democracy is good, into something supporting their antipathy to expertise1. The reason they are antipathetic to expertise can be found in some of their recent and not so recent bovine excremental output.
In December 2017, IPA’s John Abbot and Jennifer Marohasy published a paper asserting that climate change was entirely natural2. It was published in GeoResJ, an open access journal which was designed for rapid publication of climate change and other research. That journal was discontinued in January 20183. While its closure cannot be attributed directly to the paper by Abbot and Marohasy, it is tempting to think that the publication of that paper was the catalyst for a decrease in submissions, the usual reason for the discontinuation of a journal.
In April 2020, during the initial Covid-19 lockdown, the IPA’s idiotic Gideon (‘Gidiot’) Rozner like many other Covidiots, called for the immediate reversal of the lockdown. While I have discussed his apparent disregard for Australian lives elsewhere3, his unspoken implication was that the ‘experts’ (epidemiologists) do not know what they are talking about.
Of course, Murdoch ‘ruperters’ are pushing the same barrow, with climate change denialism5-8, as well as covid-19 denialism9-10. Ignoring either of these crises would lead to catastrophe, with that from Covid-19 paling into insignificance alongside what is likely to happen with climate change.
It was unelected experts who detected and analysed the Covid-19 virus, and determined that it was a coronavirus like that which caused the SARS pandemic. It was unelected experts who sequenced the genome of the various strains of the virus to help track the origins of outbreaks. It is unelected experts around the world who are developing what may turn out to be a successful vaccine. If there is a vaccine, it will be unelected experts who will work out how to manufacture it in large quantities. If that happens it will be unelected experts who will inject it into anyone who wants it. Conversely, It was unelected and elected non-experts who stated that this disease was no worse than the seasonal flu.
Similarly, it was unelected experts who determined that the burning of fossil fuels was leading to an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and this was causing the atmosphere to heat up. It was unelected experts who warned that this could cause the ocean to heat up and to become more acidic, leading to the demise of coral reefs and much zooplankton. It was unelected experts who warned us that the summer of 2019-2020 was going to be a dangerous fire season in Australia. It is unelected experts who have worked out how to ameliorate the worst effects of climate change. It is unelected experts who have worked out how to generate electricity using solar cells, wind turbines, and to store it using grid-scale batteries. It was unelected and elected non-experts who have stated that climate change is not happening.
The reason Rinehart’s IPA and Murdoch’s media ‘ruperters’ hate expertise is because it impinges on their dear leaders’ income from the unbridled capitalism on which they believe they depend. Who are these people whining about experts? They are unelected non-experts. Some of the people who parrot to same line as those from the IPA or Murdoch media are elected non-experts; people like Gerard Rennick11, Pauline Hanson11,12, and Craig Kelly13. Who would you rather place your trust in when dealing with a crisis; unelected experts, unelected non-experts or elected non-experts? This is a similar question to ‘If you have a problem with your heart, would you seek advice from someone like Craig Kelly, Adam Creighton or a cardiologist? Expertise is what is needed, not opinion from ignoramuses.