• Andrew Trounson, Higher Education Supplement,
  • The Australian,
  • August 11, 2010 12:00AM
  • LABOR’S Science and Research Minister Kim Carr has hit out at anti-scientific opinion on climate change. He has warned that the scientific method was coming under public attack, undermining science and replacing it with irrationality.

    “In all fields we want to encourage debate, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept the earth is flat,” Senator Carr told the HES yesterday after launching Labor’s science policy, which includes a $21 million science literacy project.

    “We don’t have to accept every lunatic proposition that comes along as the basis of a legitimate view, which now seems to be increasingly present.”

    He took aim at what he called the increasingly rampant irrationality of some Coalition senators. “There is a fundamental change in attitude, and people are now prepared to argue positions that they wouldn’t have been prepared to a few years ago,” he said.

    Senator Carr announced the $21m program to promote science awareness in the community, including ongoing support for science prizes and events, as well as media training for scientists and cadetships for science journalists.

    But the program will be paid for by cuts in three existing research programs: Enterprise Connect, the Co-operative Research Centres and Collaborative Research Networks scheme.

    Australian Nobel prize-winning scientist Peter Doherty backed Senator Carr’s comments.

    He said the attacks on climate science made it easier for people to dismiss the threatening implications of climate science, and distracted the debate from focusing on solutions.

    “People are just rejecting the scientific conclusions and they are being helped in that by people who should know better,” Professor Doherty said.

    The Australian Academy of Science yesterday called for scientific advisers to be appointed to every government department.

    “Despite the emphasis given in recent years to the value of evidence-based policy by major political parties, new policy announcements and spending initiatives are rarely referenced with peer-reviewed research to substantiate the arguments,” the academy said.

     

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