The Treaty and ideology – the Kiwi way of thinking that is corroding our democracy and debasing our science

As ministerial announcements on the Beehive website make ominously plain, Covid is still with us.    The government’s programme of fusing science with matauranga Maori is still with us, too, although that’s not something you will learn from recent announcements.

Mind you, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Science Minister Megan Woods, Associate Science Minister Ayesha Verrall and their colleagues might be quietly back-pedalling on their concept of a Treaty-based system of science and the way it should be taught.  But this is highly unlikely.

And as long as the Great Science Experiment continues in the ethnocentric crucible of Kiwi biculturalism , the debate it fuels will keep burning brightly.

In this country in recent days, Newsroom has published an article by Professor Elizabeth Rata who writes:

No matter how intense or heated the discussion may be, NZ universities need to address the difference between ideology and science… 

In the United States, Professor Jerry Coyne has maintained a keen interest in the way science is evolving – is that the right word? – in this country.

His examination of specific claims about matauranga Maori and how it can tell us stuff that modern science can’t, or can somehow supplement modern science, has resulted in the past week in these items being published on his Evolution is True website: Continue reading “The Treaty and ideology – the Kiwi way of thinking that is corroding our democracy and debasing our science”

We can gauge volumes of water and count contaminants – but measuring the mauri may be challenging for modern scientists

The latest press statement from the office of Kiritapu Allan serves as a reminder that this is a country where science is being positively blended with – or negatively debased by – a knowledge and belief system known as mātauranga Māori.

The press statement looks innocent enough.  It tells us the Associate Minister for the Environment, Kiri Allan, is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer.

“The current regulations are not fit for purpose and don’t offer enough protection, particularly for those whose water comes from smaller supplies,” Kiri Allan said.

“This was highlighted in the 2016 campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North when close to 60 people were hospitalised.

“We are proposing improvements in three areas; standardising the way we define source water areas, strengthening regulation of activities around water sources, and adding more water suppliers to the register.”

Allan impedes the comfortable digestion of her statement by English-speaking readers at this juncture by melding two languages:

“The changes recognise Te Mana o te Wai, the fundamental importance of water to the health and wellbeing of our people and our environment.” Continue reading “We can gauge volumes of water and count contaminants – but measuring the mauri may be challenging for modern scientists”

Bring on the Wiles v Dawkins debate and prospects of our being demystified (but he might be disqualified as a dinosaur)

We are heartened, at Point of Order, to find some of our scribblings have been drawn to the attention of Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.

On his website, Why Evolution is True,  he has posted an article headed More news from New Zealand about the big science vs. indigenous “knowledge” ruckus. In this, he has referenced our recent report that Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, has set aside $1.6 million to hook kids on “science”, but by using “traditional knowledge”.

We have been rewarded, too, by keeping an eye on what Coyne is saying about science and matauranga Maori and its place in our education system on his website.

 For good measure, we have been given examples of the wit and wisdom exercised by Professors Joanna Kidman (University of Wellington) and Siouxsie Wiles (University of Auckland) when they rebut ideas expressed by people who disagree with them.  Age and gender seem to be over-riding considerations – in tweets, at least – which seriously corrode the validity of a contradictory argument.        

On December 14, Coyne says he suddenly had been inundated with emails from disaffected Kiwis who take issue with the New Zealand government’s and academia’s push to teach mātauranga Māori , or Māori “ways of knowing”, as coequal with real science in high-school and university science classes. 

Co-equal?

Of course.  We are injecting notions of Treaty partnership into our science curriculum.

And if it’s good enough to debase our democracy with these partnerships, why should science be exempt?  Continue reading “Bring on the Wiles v Dawkins debate and prospects of our being demystified (but he might be disqualified as a dinosaur)”

Richard Dawkins (a foe of creationism) pitches into the NZ furore over letter in defence of science by seven professors

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins a few years ago reacted to Donald Trump’s shock election victory in the United States by urging fellow scientists to move to New Zealand.

He called on this country to offer British and American academics citizenship following the “catastrophes” both countries had suffered at the hands of “uneducated, anti-intellectual” voters.

He might have changed his mind since then, although the mainstream media here either haven’t noticed or don’t think it’s a matter of public interest. 

Dawkins is troubled by what is happening to some of our scientists and is supporting colleagues around the world who contend that myths do not belong in science classes.  He has posted on Twitter the letter he emailed to the chief executive of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

He wrote to Roger Ridley, unaware that Paul Atkins (paul.atkins@royalsociety.org.nz) has succeeded Ridley as CEO.

Dawkins’ letter was prompted by another eminent scientist, Jerry Coyne, Professor Emeritus in  the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago.

Let’s  hear first from Coyne, who has a has posted an article headed “Ways of knowing”: New Zealand pushes to have “indigenous knowledge” (mythology) taught on parity with modern science in science class”

Coyne has been alerted to the furore which we mentioned here yesterday and which was critically aired in The Spectator in a column by associate editor Toby Young headed Why punish a scientist for defending science? Continue reading “Richard Dawkins (a foe of creationism) pitches into the NZ furore over letter in defence of science by seven professors”