Monday, April 06, 2009

Gary Goodyear: Reasonable Investigation or Acceptable Bigotry?

A few weeks ago, there was a buzz surrounding Canadian Minister of Science and Tech Gary Goodyear and his religious beliefs. Bloggers, including here at the Bayblab took him to task, suggesting that his lack of understanding of evolution disqualifies him from being in charge of science in Canada. In response to that post, we received an email from a reader arguing that as long as it's not interfering with his job, what Goodyear believes doesn't matter and the stories in the Globe and Mail and attacks on blogs were manifestation of the last acceptable form of bigotry: anti-Christian bigotry. (emails reproduced with permission)
Hey Bayblab,
Sorry to come so late to the Gary Goodyear convo. I tried to post a reply, but it doesn't seem to be working. You guys usually have such level headed positions that it has shocked me that you'd fall into the traditional bigotry expressed by 'progressives.'

The Gary Goodyear situation is a typical 'just asking questions' meme. The way these 'questions' (read character assinations) are phrased and presented it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't condition. Mr. Goodyear rightfully refused to respond to the question, and look at where we are. Imagine if he had responded in faith with his true beliefs;

Goodyear is a conservative, and he's a devout christian. Just because he believes in a literal interpreation of the New Testmant in his private life (which he's FULLY entitled to under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) doesn't mean he can't take positions that are in the best interests of Canadian scientific community in his public life.

Let's be clear; Goodyear has never once been accused of navigating his cabinet duties according to his devout Christian beliefs. There isn't a shread of evidence to suggest he has. Not one shread. And I was under the impression that you all in the Barb lab were good Scientists.

This is a clear cut example of anti-christian bigotry, which is the only acceptable form of bigotry Canada.

Imagine if the media had asked a gay, lesiban or transgendered minister about their personal beliefs and if they're in conflict. Or a muslim for that matter. People would be calling for heads to roll at the media outlet. But because it's a conservative, and a christian on top of that, it's only 'asking questions.'

For a good debate on this exact topic see;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIhj0i8iLSM
This was expanded upon in response to my response in which I argued that yes, some beliefs do disqualify you from certain jobs.
Hi Kamel,

Sure, you can post my email if you'd like. I do completely agree that if, for example, he were a biologist then his opinions on Creation vs. Evolution may be important to gauge his authority as a biologist. However he's not a biologist, he's a politician. More to the point and this touches on something you mentioned; there is absolutely no evidence that his private Christian beliefs guide him in Public service. If Mr. Goodyear were to have donated money to, or set aside public funds for, an anti-scientific organization like The Discovery Institute, then I could see this line of questioning as legitimate. However there is no foundation for such lines of questioning in Mr. Goodyears Public performance. So the questions are posed entirely because of his identified faith. The presumption of how someone will act based on their social categorization is the very definition of bigotry. The fact that this presumption is still maintained with an abundance of evidence to the contrary only compounds the bigotry.

Recently there was a quote in the Victoria Sun where Mr. Goodyear qualified himself and said he believes in evolution. However, his subsequent comments made it clear he doesn't understand evolution at all. I don't believe he should have even had to further qualify himself as his Public performance in no way has been guided by his private beliefs. That said, with this qualification are we to disqualify him as Science and Technology Minister because he doesn't understand evolution? It is the founding principle of biology after all. How about complex physics concepts? He is the Science and Technology minister, and science and technology isn't only relegated to biology. I'm sure you can see where this is going. The point is his Public record as the Minister of Science and Technology holds no evidence to suggest that his private beliefs are guiding his public life. So these sorts of questions are direct attempts are character assassinations and overtly bigoted.

My point is that if this weren't a Christian MP there wouldn't have been any questions regarding faith. Could you imagine the Globe asking a devout Muslim Science and Technology Minister "do you honestly believe you are a descendant of Mohammed?" I think we both can agree heads would roll. But because this is a Christian MP, it's all par for the course, and in fact people defend it as 'only asking questions'. And even more than that; The people who point out the bigotry are accused of trying to silence opinion.

I hope you agree that no form of bigotry is acceptable, even if it's targeted towards identified majorities, or convenient targets. The fact that such highly educated people who contribute to your BayBlab blog have not seen the bigotry inherent in the Gary Goodyear story is worrying to say the least.

You can post this as well if you feel it would contribute to your blog. I feel discussions about socially accepted forms of bigotry are probably some of the most important discussions people can have.
So rather than keep this discussion confined to private emails, I'll turn it out to our readers. What do you think? Is it OK to question Goodyear about his personal beliefs without justification (eg. job performance indicators, dumping tax dollars into the Discovery Institute, etc.)? If not, has his performance to date given such justification? Was this a case of anti-Christian bigotry, or a reasonable investigation into the qualifications of our science minister? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and hopefully our letter writer will return to respond.


35 comments:

Dan said...

Just because he believes in a literal interpreation of the New Testmant in his private life (which he's FULLY entitled to under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) doesn't mean he can't take positions that are in the best interests of Canadian scientific community in his public life.

What?! Sure, he can believe what he wants to in his private life, but it sure as hell does disqualify him from advocating science. You simply can't be one person in private and the stark opposite in public, and be viewed as having any integrity.

Anonymous Coward said...

So Kamel, won't you stick your neck out and give us your opinion as a christian scientist? I suppose we're being accused of not being "open minded" enough. But the truth is that people like to criticize politicians for a variety of personal flaws. This particular flaw can actually have repercussion on his policies. If he doesn't understand and doesn't believe in evolution, how does that affect his funding views on projects, institutes or funding agencies that are devoted to evolution research. Is it money "wasted" in his mind? How about laws protecting consumers against "alternative medicine" that have not been proven to work such as chiropractics? If the foreign minister believed the earth was flat or that Africa was a country we'd be all over him too, the fact that religion is involved doesn't make him any less wrong.

Bayman said...

Reader,

Thanks for the feedback. I second the previous comments...your whole viewpoint seems to be based upon the idea thatthe politicians who are spending our tax dollars should be immune from criticism. Where on Earth does this insane viewpoint come from? The neoCon strategy guide?

Voters indeed have a responsibility to critically examine the philosophies and personal character of the people they are voting into office. To suggest that this is inappropriate is anti-democratic.

Also, it is incorrect to say that these "personal" views of politicians don't creep into the political realm. His brother-in-chiro-quackeriness, MP James Lunney, recently rushed to the defense and stood up in the House of Commons to clarify the insane chiro-creationist view of the world:

"Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science. For science establishes fact through the study of things observable and reproducible. Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.

In science, it is perfectly acceptable to make assumptions when we do not have all the facts, but it is never acceptable to forget our assumptions. Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils, I am prepared to believe that Darwin would be willing to re-examine his assumptions.

The evolutionists may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point. The evolutionists may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favor of creation and a creator."



See the post at Sandwalk for more.

Is it OK to say how ridiculous that statement was?

Feel free to respond with a public comment.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

Please cite even a single example of where Gary Goodyear has funded, or chosen a direction for his appointment that would be considered anti-scientific. Please just cite even one.

The fact that he says he believes in Creation says nothing to his ability to be pro-science. If you disagree with that then ANYONE who believes in God is anti-science. There isn't a shread of evidence for the existance of god, just like there isn't a shread of evidence for creation. They're both faith based concepts. It's people who try to push Creation into competition with Evolution, and who argue Creation is fact that are the problem. Gary Goodyear is not one of these people from what I've read.

It would be good if everyone could actually identify that just because someone believes in Creation as a compoent of faith, it doesn't necessairly mean they are a staunch Creationist like we see from the Discovery Institute.

Bayman said...

anon,

Please see Lunney's quote in the comment above yours. As he makes clear, the chiro-creationist stance is clearly anti-science and anti-evolution.

Anonymous said...

Bayman,

You're quoting another person and then attributing it to Goodyear. Is this seriously the way you guys work on this blog? Sounds like a lot of weak sauce to me.

Secondly; Ok.. Chiropractors are nuts. They claim to fix a whole lot more than they actually can. Fair enough. However pretty weak sauce again. Seriously just cite even one example of what he's done that could be considered an actual assault on the science-technology field in favour of his creationist and/or chiropractor backgrounds. I suspect you can't, and that's precisely why you have to resort to quoting OTHER PEOPLE to tar Gary Goodyear.

Just as an aside, MP James Lunney's statement wasn't entirely nuts. Any good scientist is always open to re-examine any theory, or conclusion they current hold. Any scientist who says otherwise is no longer a scientist, and is more like a David Suzuki. Put simply they are a scientific-tourist.

The only aspect of the MP Lunney statement that I would criticize is his allusions to "plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils" jargon. Even his suggestion that some scientists interpret our ancestry to favour Creation or a creator isn't necessairly wrong. I have spoken to a number that consider this. However those very same scientists are open enough to know a creator, as well as creation are impossible to test, therefore they are not science.

The point I'm trying to establish is these attacks on Gary Goodyear are baseless in his public service. He has never enacted legislation or funded organizations that are anti-scientific. Therefore these attacks are blatant attempts to set up Christians as anti-scientific.

Consider the slippery slope this starts. If Christians who believe, as a faith based concept, that Creation is true, and are therefore anti-scientific, then Muslims who believe Sharia is a component of Islam would be likewise anti-Natural Justice. Now I do believe Sharia to be the anti-thesis to natural justice, however I would hardly accuse a Muslim to recognizes Sharia as a component of his religion, but who also lacks any real investment in that form of law to be any sort of threat to Western Liberal Tradition. So I would never question him on it in the way the Globe has Gary Goodyear. Nor would I ever call for his resignation from a post like the Minister of Justice. But if we're to believe what's happening to Gary Goodyear as legitimate approaches to vetting public servants, then what I just discribed would happen to a Muslim Justice Minister. I think this situation would be easily identified as bigoted. I just don't understand why it's not as easily identified for a Christian.

And a play out of the 'neocon strategy guide'? Statements like that are exactly what I've been warning about; claims that pointing out bigotry are attempts to silence opinion. They are not. The fact that bigotry is phrased in the form of a question doesn't make it any less bigoted.

Anonymous Coward said...

Well Mr. Goodyear doesn't have much of a record as a science and tech minister since he was just appointed. He did however oversee the largest cuts to science funding since the last conservative government including completely cutting out Genome Canada. I have no way to know if this decision was biased by the fact he doesn't understand evolution, but it certainly is the cherry on the cake. Now contrast that to president Obama appointing phycisist Steven Chu as energy secretary and the resulting changes in climate policies and you can begin to understand how understanding your portfolio does indeed influence your policy decisions. After all "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", this was written by Theodosius Dobzhansky, an orthodox christian AND evolutionary biologist.

Anonymous said...

AC,

That was all I had been hoping to see. I read this blog for a while and it was usually so level headed Then the Gary Goodyear post just shocked the hell out of me because it was full of 'phear the creationist!'

I never said there weren't legitimate reasons to criticize Mr. Goodyear. The fact that Mr. Goodyear's background is a Chiropractor makes me wonder how thick the competition for that position was. I think we all could name a dozen more qualified individuals for his job. But what I was reading in the initial Quack post wasn't a debate between better candidates. That thread was a conversation about ripping on the Christian because he believed in Creation.

None of us are perfect (yes.. i know thanks for pointing out the obvious). Even The One stooped to bigotry when he repeatedly accused the Republicans of going to make people fear him because he's 'black' and 'has a funny name.' The point is to make the extra effort to not criticize people for their social categorization alone. Even if their social category may be socially acceptable to attack.

Kamel said...

AC asked: So Kamel, won't you stick your neck out and give us your opinion as a christian scientist?

If I don't, will I be labeled a creationist? :)

And just to be clear, I'm not a Christian Scientist (yes, I know that's not what you meant). Either way, a better description would probably be lapsed Catholic.

But yes, I agree with you that we critcize politicians for any number of reasons (and they're under more scrutiny being public figures), and once it's out there it's fair game. Religious beliefs don't get a free pass any more than bad geography (flat earth, Africa the country, being able to "see Russia from my house", etc.). But I'm not sure that politicians have an obligation to reveal their personal beliefs (but I'm not so naive to think that the personal doesn't bleed into the professional at all). And I admit I didn't really like the way the G&M stories were written or some of the reactions.

As for Goodyear himself, no I don't think it's appropriate for somebody who thinks the Earth is 6000 years old (is that what he believes?) or denies evolution to hold that post. I see it as a failure of Harper - unless there's some history of science advocacy (or even knowledge!) there that I'm not aware of - as well as Goodyear who should have declined the appointment if his beliefs conflict with his ability to do the job (which he probably doesn't think is the case).

Now where I have a problem (by that I mean personal conflict) is that no, I don't think a YEC or evolution denier can properly advocate for science but I don't really have an issue with a scientist, science minister, etc. expressing a belief in God. Is being an atheist a requirement for any science related job?

Is that enough neck for you?

The Doc said...

Personally, I think of politicians as supra-managers. It's their job to manage the managers who are allocating money and jobs.
In my humble opinion, I feel that a manager should have at least a passing understanding of what they are managing. How else can they evaluate and allocate resources where needed.

If he can't understand evolution, he's failing in that job. If (note that word - I use it intentionally) he can't distinguish 'theory' from 'idea' then he's failing in that job.

I also don't care if he's an atheist who doesn't believe in evolution. It's irrelevant.

Why wait for him to make a bad decision?

Anonymous said...

I should say that I totally disagree with the reduction in fundings for the CRC program, as well as Genome Canada. I'm sure it would be interesting to see the rationalization the government has for reducing innovation. If they shift that investment towards putting innovation to market, then I'm for the investment shift. Canada is absolutely brutal at bringing to market what it develops.

However if this is a plain and simple cut, then I see it as a replay of what the PCs did in Ontario to healthcare in the early 90s. Blaming the MDs for high costs, and then crippling the industry for almost two decades.

Kamel said...

Meant to add to my previous comment that it's more appropriate to judge him based on job performance than on what he *might* do based on his religion or other belief.

As I noted in my original email response to our reader whether Goodyear's beliefs interfere with his ability to perform in his Ministerial post is a matter for debate, which I think is what we're seeing here.

Anonymous said...

Kamel,

If his performance in any way reflected his personal belief structure than I think it is a legitimate concern. Otherwise we're participating in straight up discrimination.

"why wait for him to make a bad decision?"

Ya.. why wait for mistakes.. let's just prevent people from getting jobs because of their personal beliefs.

wait a second... I think there are laws against that. let me check.... yep;

Ontario Human Rights Code
Employment 5(1) Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

Anonymous said...

"Ontario Human Rights Code
Employment 5(1) Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability."

That explains all the blind airline pilots, underage bartenders, female priests and non-citizen MPs we've had! Clearly they were all given a fair shot before being disqualified due to disability, age, sex or citizenship.

Bayman said...

Agree with Kamel...I don't think anyone has leveled criticism on the basis of religion per se. However the ability to grasp high school level science in my view is relevant to the job of leading a government minstry responsible for funding high-level, expensive, cutting edge science. Suggesting that creationist tales, or any other religious doctrine, is a viable alternative to evolution as a a basis for biology displays total ignorance of the subject. Modern biomedical research in built on the basis of common descent, for example, this is why studying genes in the fruit fly or mouse brain can tell us about how evolutionarily related genes cause Parkinson's in humans. Politicians who reject this notion are completely incapable of making rational decisions about research funding.

And no, we shouldn't wait for incapable politicians to make bad decisions. That's too late. Ideally, we shouldn't vote them in in the first place. Otherwise we should get rid of them as soon as possible.

Sorry, but holding political office is not a basic human right. You have to get elected, inspire confidence and provide competent leadership.

Anonymous said...

Anon,
"Clearly they were all given a fair shot before being disqualified due to disability, age, sex or citizenship."

So religion is now a physical disability, or age, or sex, or citizenship... interesting.

Bayman,
I doubt most highschool students udnerstand evolution. But that's neither here nor there. You're preaching to the choir about the importance of compotent leadership, but you're missing the point. I'll illustrate the point by using your own words;

"that creationist tales, or any other religious doctrine, is a viable alternative to evolution as a a basis for biology displays total ignorance of the subject."

Nowhere that I have read has Gary Goodyear suggest Creation is an alternative to Evolution. Because groups like the Discovery Insitute have, doesn't mean Gary Goodyear has. Just like Mr. Lunney is not Garry Goodyear, the Discovery Institute and other staunch Creationists are not Gary Goodyear. This is an important distinction. You guys might as well say all Muslims are terrorists. It's the same as saying all Christians are Creationists, in the sense that the Discovery Institute are Creationists.

"Sorry, but holding political office is not a basic human right." - Employment is.

"You have to get elected,.." - He did... that's why he's an MP.. go figure.

"..inspire confidence.." - You get elected because you ispire confidence. At least relatively speaking when compared to your opposition in an election. So again.. he did.
".. and provide competent leadership." - I doubt you could establish his leadership isn't competent. Not only is that a very subjective issue, but only in the most excessively incompetent situations would even most people agree (ie. GW Bush).

Sorry you dont like Conservatives. But just because you don't like them doesn't mean they're 'incompetent.' And saying they're 'incompetent' doesn't make it so. All I'm asking for is an example. Other than the reduction in funding, which I agree with is the wrong direction, there hasn't been anything. And even that could be argued for in this economy.

Bayman said...

All I'm asking for is an example. Other than the reduction in funding,

What else do you want? Major cuts to core scientific funding programs are pretty much the biggest anti-science statement a single politician can make...other than dismissing the most fundamental of scientific tenets, like evolution or gravity.

Anonymous said...

Bayman,

Because cuts in a recession is considered a reasonable approach. This is particularly true coming from a Conservative government. They're advocating fiscal responsibility. Just because Obama is dumping money into research (please note he's dumping money into everything and will have a projected deficit of 6+ trillion in 2013), doesn't mean it's a reasoned economic approach.

So no, funding cuts in a recession does not mean he's anti-scientific. It could simply be him taking his bite of the crap sandwich that the economic downturn has forced.

And seriously.. how many times do I have to repeat that believing in Creation is not mutually exclusive from accepting evolution. That may be the case for Creationists at the Discovery Institute. However people who view Creation as a component of FAITH don't necessairly dismiss evolution. After this um-teenth time of pointing this out, if you are incapable of seeing the distinction then I give up. If this is the case then we're beyond bigotry.. it's just plain ignorance.

Kristen said...

Whoa,
Let's get back to the issue.
To the question:
"Do you believe in evolution?" according to the article his answer was:

“I'm not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,” Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Christian, Muslim, or Pastafarian this statement is bound to face the wrath of the blogosphere. This makes him a bad politician as he doesn't even know how to appropriately avoid a question. But it makes him a ridiculous and embarrassing Minister of Sci&Tech. This does not suggest he believes in the compatibility of creation and evolution as suggested by anonymous. Perhaps we are putting words in his mouth. Perhaps he 'believes' in evolution. But the suggestion that it is not affecting his policy decisions, I think, is incorrect. The statement above suggests his policy is to speak to his religious conservative base and that this is more important than doing his job, promoting science in this country.

"I doubt you could establish his leadership isn't competent." Again.

Read his response to the question posed by the Globe. That is far from leadership on Science and Technology.

Consider the slippery slope this starts. If Christians who believe, as a faith based concept, that Creation is true, and are therefore anti-scientific, then Muslims who believe Sharia is a component of Islam would be likewise anti-Natural Justice. Now I do believe Sharia to be the anti-thesis to natural justice, however I would hardly accuse a Muslim to recognizes Sharia as a component of his religion, but who
also lacks any real investment in that form of law to be any sort of
threat to Western Liberal Tradition. So I would never question him on it in the way the Globe has Gary Goodyear. Nor would I ever call for his resignation from a post like the Minister of Justice. But if we're to believe what's happening to Gary Goodyear as legitimate approaches to vetting public servants, then what I just discribed would happen to
a Muslim Justice Minister. I think this situation would be easily
identified as bigoted. I just don't understand why it's not as easily identified for a Christian.


If, in your example, a reporter asked,"Do you believe in equal rights for women." and the respose was

“I'm not going to answer that question. I am a Muslim, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

Are you kidding me?

rob said...

punishment for the above statement should be directed to me. sorry login error.

Kamel said...

If, in your example, a reporter asked,"Do you believe in equal rights for women." and the respose was

“I'm not going to answer that question. I am a Muslim, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”


And to bring it closer to the point, should they be Minister of State (Status of Women)?

Like Rob has said, forget the creation stuff (or any religious overtones) - he's still demonstrated ignorance of basic scientific concepts (and it would almost have to be wilful ignorance considering he's a chiropractor and presumably had to take *some* biology for that - but maybe that's asking too much).

If the whole story had been framed that way from the start ("Science Minister doesn't understand evolution") would you still have as big a problem with it?

I think our position - but I can only speak for myself - is that, while scientific understanding may not be a strict requirement for that ministerial post it should be.

Kamel said...

As an aside, this was one of the things that bugged me about the original uproar: To the question: "Do you believe in evolution?" according to the article his answer was...

That phrasing of the question is *not* a direct quote. The G&M didn't detail how the question was phrased, which bothered me about the original article - it gave no context to the conversation at all. Not that it would have changed Goodyear's clumsy response (and bumbling 'clarification') but it still irked me.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

Gary Goodyear specifically stated to CTV (which I subsequently read in a Vancouver Sun article) that he 'believes' in evolution. Now from what followed this clarification of sorts, made it abundantly clear he doesn't understand evolution very well. But what standard are we to hold him to? Let's say he had a high school level understanding of evolution; is that good enough? Does he have to understand evolution as well as an evolutionary biologist? What about metallurgy, organic synthesis, or does he have to understand combinatorial chemistry and why it was such a failure? How about genetically modified crops, and the potential applications of tobacco to make low cost pharmaceuticals? Or how it's totally insane to use crop foods to generate bio fuels. Rather we should use switch grass, for example because there wouldn't generate a cost transfer from energy onto food. These elements are still, or have been strong factors in Canada's science and technology industries.

I wouldn't expect anyone to understand them all, and just because I mentioned them doesn't mean I understand them fully. I would expect a good leader to surround himself/herself with good advisers. That's precisely what good leaders do. Hopefully Mr. Goodyear has done that.

Just because Mr. Goodyear identified what the G&M asked as a stealth attempt to set up a heated Creation vs. Evolution controversy (wow.. it worked!)doesn't mean he is Christian constituents first, scientist advocate second, as you suggested. He can be both, and his track record speaks for that. And I totally agree he definitely didn't handle the situation very well. Probably the best way to have handled that situation would have just to out the G&M directly. Stating you see their intentions to drum up controversy. I'm pretty sure if that was the tack he took we wouldn't be having this discussion right now.

Also, your modification of my example isn't exactly fair. I chose my example specifically because it is analogous to what we're debating. Your example of woman's rights is not analogous. The key in these examples was the existence of a track record that disputes the idea that the person's religious heritage is navigating their public life. Also, your example of woman's rights is such a fundamental tenant of Western Liberal Tradition that any MP, no matter what creed, must defend it. There is no fundamental human right to 'evolution.' There is however a fundamental human right to equality.

In addition, your example of woman's rights completely obfuscates the situation. You're acting like he's denying evolution. His statement to CTV states he believes in it. If you want to debate if that 'clarification' was forced on him because of the uproar, then debate away. Frankly, I have no clue where he stood before the G&M, but I'm willing to take a man at his word.

Kamel,

I totally agree. There should be a requirement, but Science and Technology is such a vast field that I doubt we could expect any one person to be knowledgeable in all the fields. Again that's why leaders surround themselves with good advisers. hehe.. that said I doubt a Chiropractor could really be that knowledgeable in as many fields of Sci and Tech as a Phd in any field (bio, chem, phys). And we all sure know there are a lot of Phd's out there that would love a cushy Government job.

I think we're tunnel visioned because we're all ambitious molecular biologists, and it's insane for us to think of people who don't understand Evolution. More so we're so frustrated with having to actually defend evolution against nut jobs who deny it in the face of mounds of evidence (just look at the US high school systems).

Anonymous said...

heh.. I should mention that I would normally identify myself, but BayBlab's track record with 'he who shall not be named' makes me want to keep my identity confidential.

=P

rob said...

Anonymous (I don't mind the anonymity, it doesn't make your points any less crappy. :)
Again think these things are better discussed on Sandwalk or somewhere, but since you're calling out the Bayblab on this one I'll try to keep it up.
Also the original post did not speak of his followups ie on CTV that you mentioned. So I guess it was the origonal post that I was refering to. His more recent acknowledgement of evolution is a welcome one in my mind. Since this CTV interview, that I haven't seen, I guess I don't have nearly as much of a problem with his position. I'm glad he was embarrassed by the quote and it demonstrates that Canadians won't put up with that level of ignorance in their government.
I totally agree that the media framed the quote and all that. They sell papers ect. And I agree with Kamel aswell, that the real context was not there.
I also agree that he shouldn't have to understand all of science to be a potentially great Minister.

That's not the point.
He indirectly compared a scientific fact with religious belief by not responding to a science question because of his religious beliefs. I fail to understand why you have a problem with people having a problem with this. Blame the media all you want. He brought up religion, not the reporter. Even if he doesn't deny evolution. His religion is irrelevant.

OK. so now your bad example is not about how bigotry is directed specifically at Christians. It's now about how someone can believe one thing yet do another. Sure. He's a politician after all.

Also, your example of woman's rights is such a fundamental tenant of Western Liberal Tradition that any MP, no matter what creed, must defend it. There is no fundamental human right to 'evolution.' There is however a fundamental human right to equality.
If he believes in evolution why did he not defend it? Don't we have a fundamental right to the truth from our government? Or does religion allow the government to avoid answering truthfully?

BTW you mention several times that he has a good track record? Any things you care to mention? I'm seriously not aware of anything he's done other than one bad interview.

Kamel said...

He brought up religion, not the reporter.

That was another thing that bugged me about the G&M story (which goes back to the first one) - without context, everybody assumed that it was Goodyear bringing up religion, not the reporter. For all we know the reporter was asking him about his church attendance (my understanding was that this was meant to be a profile) and used that to jump to evolution ("Oh, you're a regular church-goer? How do you feel about evolution?"). Not that it excuses Goodyear going along with it, or falling into the trap or whatever - there are a a million ways he could have responded to the mystery question better, but there's enough to take issue with without adding that angle which may or may not be true.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

His religion is irrelevant? Other than the occasional bitch about his degree as a Chiropractor, his religion is all this has been about.

For example; The Doc "Why wait for him to make a mistake?"

His religion is all that was needed to deem him unqualified, even in the face of him saying he believes in evolution.

Because he didn't take the bait on a question that was designed to drum up controversy he's now the nutty creationist that wants to subvert science. Now do you see why I characterized this as a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation?

And how is this not about bigotry? It is about bigotry.. you just can't follow an argument.


"BTW you mention several times that he has a good track record? Any things you care to mention? I'm seriously not aware of anything he's done other than one bad interview."

Precisely my point! You don't know ANYTHING about the man. You just know he didn't take the bait on a question designed to drum up a bogus controversy pitting scientists against Christians. With only that information you're still comfortable with saying he's incompetent, and suggests his religious beliefs are navigating his cabinet duties. Then you have the audacity to force me to prove my point before you make even the most remote attempt to read who Gary Goodyear is? Give me a break. You're a hack. I'm not going to list his accomplishments and argue why each one isn't motivated by his christian beliefs. If you can't be bothered to make an effort to learn about what the hell you're talking about, then I'm not going to do your work for you.

The fact that the only thing the G&M has to bitch about is his parsed quote should be evidence enough. If it's not, go through his public record that's available on the net. Be my guest. I'm not going to do your work for you.

Anonymous said...

Forget it. I know I said I wouldn't do your work for you, but you are a hack and I want this stupidity over with.

http://www.garygoodyear.com/EN/gary%E2%80%99s_accomplishments_as_minister_of_state_(science_&_technology)/

go there. Pretty lame stuff wouldn't you say? He goes around saying "congrats!" to Universities that get CFIs, or Communication organizations that win Emmy's. Occasionally he speaks to the House of Commons, or welcomes new institutes (ie. Surgical Innovation institute in Hamilton).

I would love for you to try to twist his accomplishments in a way that argues he's some overarching Christian puppet master. That would probably be the most comical thing I'd ever experience. Maybe you can find a CFI that was awarded to the Discovery Institute, or an analogous anti-scientific organization.

I guess because his public accomplishments don't reflect a Christian compass it just means he's hiding those things right?

Anonymous said...

Kamel,

I just read your 'being able to Russia from my house' quote.

You do know that was Tina Faye from SNL and NOT Sarah Palin right?

Anonymous Coward said...

Common guys, no need to get nasty over politics. We're beating a dead horse. I guess the heart of the issue is whether a laic state means expecting public officials to keep their religion private or not. And if their religion is public, can we hold that against them without risking some bigotry. I think we would all prefer to have science advisers, and scientifically literate science ministers. But the truth is, we don't elect science ministers, we don't even elect prime ministers, only parties. And most Canadians must be happy with the situation or we wouldn't be having this conversation. I will continue to vote for whichever party takes science seriously amongst other issues. Cutting funding to science when you're massively increasing expenses to "shovel ready" projects and appointing a science minister who barely understands science is not putting science in its just place.

Kamel said...

Ha ha, yes I am aware it was Fey. It was a joke, and I don't think it changes the point. I'm also pretty sure I didn't attribute the quote at all.

Anonymous said...

"Does he have to understand evolution as well as an evolutionary biologist? What about metallurgy, organic synthesis, or does he have to understand combinatorial chemistry and why it was such a failure? How about genetically modified crops, and the potential applications of tobacco to make low cost pharmaceuticals? Or how it's totally insane to use crop foods to generate bio fuels. Rather we should use switch grass, for example because there wouldn't generate a cost transfer from energy onto food. These elements are still, or have been strong factors in Canada's science and technology industries."
Yes, as Minister of Science and Technology, I do expect him to understand all of these concepts. If he decides to take the job, he should already understand all of the basic concepts of biology, physics, chemistry (and related industries). I realize that it is impossible for one person to be an "expert" in all of these fields, but at least a basic understanding would be nice. He's representing Canada and all of us Canadians. If he doesn't understand the concepts involved in his job, he should damn well be trying to learn - don't you think? I don't care about his religious beliefs, but I do care whether or not he's competent in his job.

Bayman said...

Here is the type of response I would like to hear from my minister of Science and Technology:

G&M reporter: "Do you believe the theory of evolution?"

Minister: "Yes of course, it is fundamental to the science of biology and therefore a cornerstone of the world-class biomedical research being conducted here in Canada, by Canadian scientists and funded by Canadian taxpayers."

Easy one-line answer. No controversy. No religious debates. No heated arguments on the BayBlab and around the blogosphere.

Why didn't he just say that?

Anonymous said...

Bayman for Minister of State (Sci/Tech)!

The Doc said...

A different blogger (Canadian Cynic - whom I'd recommend... although they use rough language) put it thusly today:
"So, to go along with a Foreign Minister who doesn't care about Canadians in foreign countries, we have an Indian Affairs Minister who doesn't give a shit about Indians. And let's not forget the Science Minister who doesn't believe in evolution.

Welcome to Canada, the new laughingstock of educated people everywhere."

He's talking about Abousfian Abdelrazik in the Foreign affairs comment, Attawapiskat in regards to the Indian Affairs minister, and of course, the evolution debate here.

I found it amusing.