Thursday, March 19, 2009

Goodyear Controversy Blows Over

I wish I could find an electronic copy of the original Globe and Mail story that started off the whole Gary Goodyear controversy. I've read a number of articles and the truth is I respect the comments that most scientists have made about the minister of science and innovation. I read the front page story in the print edition and I'll admit I got a little riled up. Since I can't find the article I'll rely on Jonathan Kay's summary in the National Post:

Canadians differ on whether a supernatural entity had a role in the creation of human life. In a 2007 Canadian Press-Decima Research poll, 26% of respondents said they believe in creationism, 29% picked evolution and 34% said they believe in some combination of the two.

But according to militant secularists -- given disgracefully prominent play by The Globe and Mail on the front page of yesterday's edition -- that's not good enough. They want everyone in society, or at least everyone leading this country, to dogmatically subscribe to the minority view that God had no role at all in human creation.

In the article -- entitled "Minister won't confirm belief in evolution: Researchers aghast that key figure in funding controversy invokes religion in science discussion" -- Globe science writer Anne McIlroy breathlessly reported that "Canada's Science
Minister [Gary Goodyear], the man at the centre of the controversy over federal funding cuts to researchers, won't say if he believes in evolution"; that "some have expressed concern that Mr. Goodyear ... is suspicious of science, perhaps because he is a creationist"; and that "Mr. Goodyear's evasive answers on evolution are unlikely to reassure the scientists who are skeptical about him."

What really gets to me is the inquisition style questioning and the quotes in the article from the extreme activists that were calling for blood and suggesting that anyone who could be labelled as a 'creationist' has no business dealing with science. It's just arrogant and wrong headed. Jonathon Kay calls it a witch hunt and that's about right.

Fortunately I'm sure this story will blow over as I mentioned most of the comments from scientists are far more balanced than those in the original Globe article.

Finally I just wanted to make a couple of clarifications about my last post:

I don't strictly agree with the assertion that a politicians beliefs are irrelevant. I'm fond of a quote attributed to St. Thomas More, "I believe when men forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duty they lead their country by short route to chaos." Beliefs matter. I maintain, however, that when he was answering a question that he perceived as hostile he was right to avoid it and that his beliefs are irrelevant to his fitness for the job.

Some commenters questioned my assertion that Gary Goodyear is 'clearly competent.' He did stay on message during the interview highlighting the Government's consistent funding of science and technology:
Far from being hostile, Goodyear argued that the Harper government has increased
funding for science in every budget, including committing $5.1 billion over three years in the most recent budget.
Sounds like he's on top of his ministry.

Very last thing - Lots of people commented on my last post. I really appreciate that and I read them all.


pettitji said...

Goodyear may be on top of his ministry but he is not on top of the topic. In his interview on CTV, he said he believed in evolution but then gave examples that showed he didn't understand it.

Anonymous said...

What got me was the cartoon in The Globe and Mail with the minister carrying a huge cross. When are we going to see the cartoons making fun of Islam.

caz said...

That will NEVER happen...the bullying from the left is what it has always been. In the absence of logic...the left will prevail in its endless proclamations that it and it alone is the voice of ALL canadians. It's nausiating to the extreme, but until the silent majority joins its forces and stand up for sanity...they will blather on forever...they are the superior forms of life and conservatives are ignorant and uneducated. I don't see this EVER changing. We'e not even into a campaign yet and the fur is flying.

nerdbeard said...

I don't mean to sound combative, but I don't see how the quote you provided is an indication of Goodyear's competence. Are you suggesting that the additional spending is the result of Goodyear lobbying Harper? Or merely that Goodyear has a conversational grasp of the figures involved? It's just not clear.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Nerdbeard - Don't worry about being combative. I probably won't be able to demonstrate that Goodyear is competent to your satisfaction. I've only seen him speak once and he seemed like a smart guy. The original Globe article that I read but couldn't find was actually quite complementary about his background as well. Finally, staying on message and not getting caught up in the face of hostile questioning is a sign of competence.

That's all I got.