Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goodyear's Theory of Evolution

So which is worse? A Minister of Science who doesn't believe in evolution, or one who doesn't understand evolution?


“We are evolving every year, every decade. That's a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment.”

Hat Tip - Koby

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45 Comments:

  • Just to clarify, is it now official Liberal policy that practicing Christians, Muslims, Jews or members of other religious groups are no longer permitted to be Ministers in a government? Is it now Liberal policy that one must adhere to the left wing view on every issue or are banned from participating in government at a meaningful level? Please clarify because that is what this sounds like to me. Must the Deputy Minister also be an atheist? Must all scientists in a policy role? Just how far will the Liberals take this matter?

    By Anonymous Ron, at 11:42 PM  

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    By Blogger leonsp, at 12:16 AM  

  • So...

    - Does the Health minister need to understand how an MRI works?
    - Does the Transport minister need to know all the ATC protocols?
    - Does the Industry minister need to know how to build a car?

    Now, if Goodyear were to start meddling in how scientists do their job and injecting his uninformed take (based on the small snippet posted, at least) on evolution, or (for that matter) a belief in creationism, that would be a problem. But as long as he sticks to just overseeing the department's budget and whatnot like every other cabinet minister, we're fine, and the opposition should drop the phony outrage.

    BTW, from the same link:
    On Tuesday, Liberal science critic Marc Garneau said that believing in evolution is not a job requirement for the science minister.

    “It is a personal matter. It is a matter of faith.… I don't think it prevents someone from being a good minister,” said the former astronaut, who has been a vocal critic of the government for its cuts to the three granting councils that fund university-based research in Canada.


    It's nice that at least one Liberal (and the science critic, no less) can restrict his criticism to relevant matters.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 12:22 AM  

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    By Blogger ivh, at 12:22 AM  

  • @Ron
    No, many Christians/other religious people have no trouble with evolution. Further, secularism is not a "leftist" policy - many of my "militant atheist" friends are small government libertarians. And besides, the LPC made no comment on this absurdity, at least the NDP Science Critic called Goodyear out on his ignorance.

    @The Invisible Hand

    No to your questions - but they're misleading, here's the better rephrasing:

    -Does the foreign affairs minister need to believe in other countries?
    -Does the health minister need to believe in modern medicine, or will Voodoo and witchcraft suffice?

    It's not too much to ask for a science minister that UNDERSTANDS science, even if he's not an expert in it. Every high school grad should understand the basics of evolution (unfortunately this is no where near the case).

    @CG

    I'm not sure which is worse - the former implies he understands but ignores the facts, the latter is just ignorance. I'm tempted to believe that the PMO told him to shut his mouth and state he believes it - hence the confusing statements.

    By Blogger Ian, at 12:36 AM  

  • Evolution is not a left-wing view.

    It is not in fact a view. It is an accepted scientific model that may be not yet fully explored but is more than adequately evidenced as being true. Yes, there may be more to discover about it and unanswered questions but it's not a matter of opinion or perspective.

    It is not an anti-religious sentiment. Lately even scientists at the vatican are liking it so it seems the idea that evolution and religion are incompatible is not held by all in the religious community.

    By Blogger Adam M, at 12:37 AM  

  • “It is not an anti-religious sentiment.”

    I agree with Adam. The problem is not with science. The problem is with religious believers who can't accommodate scientific research. The fear is that a religious bigot will restrict funding in the areas where their personal beliefs clash with public need. For example, the Bush ban on public funding for stem cell research. Lives are at stake.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:25 AM  

  • Let's step back from this for a moment... It's not so much that he has a particular view regarding established scientific facts. It is more concerning that he was not comfortable sharing said views, or if he's not being open to new ideas - especially since his position can influence scientific research in this country.

    Since he is minister, his belief in science is critical. I'm not so concerned about his belief in religion. I'm more concerned that he also believes in science. It is not the point that he should understand all processes. Hey, it's possible someone doesn't understand something as simple as evolution - especially if they were raised in a closeted environment. It's more troubling if they personally CHOOSE to blank out that reality. This would influence their decisions.

    You'd want experts or subject-area familiar folks in various departments. The depth of the talent in the Liberal caucus allows for this. The Conservative caucus... well...

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 1:49 AM  

  • "You'd want experts or subject-area familiar folks in various departments. The depth of the talent in the Liberal caucus allows for this. The Conservative caucus... well..."

    First, your view of cabinet ministers is essentially wrong. Few cabinet ministers are experts on the areas they govern. They don't need to be, because their departments are staffed with experts. Their role is to make tradeoffs between different values, something they have some understanding of as politicians.

    Incidentally, knowledge of the economics of R&D is probably more relevant than whether or not somebody is a scientist.

    But are the best ministers specialists in their fields?

    Harper's best minister is Jim Prentice. He is currently minister of the environment and was minister of industry, despite not having a background in environmental science or economics.

    Chretien's best ministers were Paul Martin and John Manley. Martin was a lawyer by training, and later a businessman, but had no economics background. Despite that we was a good finance minister. John Manley was a lawyer, who also had no real econ background or IR background, yet was widely praised as industry and foreign minister.

    Mulroney's best minister was Joe Clark. Joe Clark had no background in foreign policy, yet was a great external affairs minister. Where Clark did much worse was as constitutional affairs minister (although it was closer to his expertise as a lawyer).

    Trudeau's best minister was Allan MacEachen. He served in almost every major role, and only had a background in economics, suitable to his finance gig.

    At the provincial level, Gerard Kennedy was a popular education minister, even though he never graduated from university.


    Expertise is not really a good predictor of who will be a successful cabinet minister. Indeed, often the experts have a lot invested in particular ways of doing things, and so are more dismissive of their staff.

    Gordon O'Connor was a Brigadier-General, but a lousy minister of national defence. Gerry Ritz is a farmer, but has been a poor minister of agriculture.

    Alfonso Gagliano's skills as an accountant came in handy when he was minister of public works, but for the wrong reasons.

    Bottom line: being a government minister has more to do with reading the public and doing your homework than it does with having any sort of expertise on a given file.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:20 AM  

  • "Bottom line: being a government minister has more to do with reading the public and doing your homework than it does with having any sort of expertise on a given file."

    It is obvious that Goodyear never did his homework. Anyway, you are missing the point. In order to be a good minister people have to respect you. I can guarantee that Goodyear does not have the respect of the scientific community. They view him as joke. His ignorance of Darwinian theory is on par with a foreign minister not knowing where Europe is on a map.

    By Blogger Koby, at 3:12 AM  

  • "Harper's best minister is Jim Prentice."

    Prentice is the most overrated Canadian politician out there. The guy's copyright bill was an abomination and he has been terrible on the environmental file. The only people who know who he is are wonks and outside the small subsection that see him as the next great neocon leader, he hasn't exactly wowed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:25 AM  

  • "In order to be a good minister people have to respect you. I can guarantee that Goodyear does not have the respect of the scientific community."

    1. Interest groups often do not respect the cabinet ministers that govern their slice of the world. That is not a bad thing - one of the biggest problems of government is that bureaucracies and even ministers sometimes get "captured" by the industries they regulate.

    Liberals are generally not respected by farmers, policemen, and soldiers. Does that mean their ministers of agriculture, public safety and defence are all bad?

    2. Academic scientists are not the only stakeholder of innovation policy. Business, and corporate R&D is a major stakeholder as well.

    3. I'll bet they would "respect" him plenty if he raised their funding instead of cutting it. This is an example of outside lobbying. An organization gets its funding cut (or some policy outcome that they dislike), so they try to make some noise, in order to signal to the government that it will lose votes over the matter. It looks like it worked.

    I'm not even arguing that Gary Goodyear is a good minister. He may suck. I am suggesting that the way you are going about establishing that he sucks is problematic. You are making a post-hoc justification for a dislike rooted in Goodyear's religion and partisan affiliation.

    I have two criteria for judging a cabinet minister: does he/she have good policies, and does he/she implement them competently.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:32 AM  

  • Radical fight-mongering atheists are no better or worse than radical fight-mongering religious people. The other side is always wrong/ignorant/petty/etc etc etc.

    I have no problem with someone professing a belief in creationism, but I *AM* most definitely uncomfortable with a government minister who can't share their views because "they feel attacked" and can't handle it. Boo hoo -- get the hell out of government if you're such a fucking wuss.

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 8:03 AM  

  • No, I don't think any of this precludes him from being the Minister of Science. It's a little weird - like having a Ministre de la Francophonie who can't speak French, but so long as Goodyear doesn't let his personal views interfere with the way he runs his department (or the way Harper runs it), I don't have a huge problem.

    I just find the entire thing funny.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:21 AM  

  • And, in Goodyear's defence, there is a case to be made for his explanation.

    1) Let's assume wearing sneakers or high heels is an advantage over the alternative.

    2) Now, let's assume there's a genetic predisposition to liking sneakers or high heels (it's not far feetched...I certainly believe my love of sneakers and dislike of high heels is more nature than nurture).

    3) Now, let's assume there's a procreational advantage to high heels or sneakers. With high heels, there may be a case to be made. Certainly, there's a better chance of finding a mate with high heels than with clogs or flip flops, so there may be a point.

    Put it all together, and Goodyear is on the right track.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:26 AM  

  • That sounds less to me like accepting evolution than with passing off as genuine evolution the notion of "micro-evolution" - the creationist sop to the plain fact that adaptation is always going on.

    Creationists are fond of saying that microevolution obviously happens, but that this is not evidence of "macroevolution" - i.e. larger adaptations over a longer timespan.

    By Blogger RevDave, at 9:40 AM  

  • Your tag is wrong Dan - you have heard of this guy.

    http://www.benedictionblogson.com/2008/05/27/mp-gary-goodyear-fires-staffer-over-movie-ticket/

    By Blogger Glen, at 10:37 AM  

  • Since when has it been established that knowledge of the theory of evolution is the embodiment of all sciences?? People can exhibit solid scientific knowledge without having a strong background in evolutionary theory... or even believe in it.

    This is one of the most nonsensical arguments I have ever heard.

    By Blogger Leeky Sweek, at 10:41 AM  

  • High heels are better. I just like to feel pretty!

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 11:37 AM  

  • Dan, as a former roommate of yours I just want to call you out on your lie in the post above, I seem to remember you loved wearing heels in the privacy of your own home....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 AM  

  • "People can exhibit solid scientific knowledge without having a strong background in evolutionary theory... or even believe in it."

    Oh Yeah! If pigs could fly.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:05 PM  

  • Hoosier. I would have to disagree. I guess that is what makes our party views on cabinet so different. We believe some familiarity with a file or general area is good. I never said he has to be "a scientist".

    I know a lot more about Cabinet selection than you may think. A good "fit" is critical, so a minister doesn't waste precious hours, days, even months trying to understand a concept.

    Time for elite thinking to return to politics - not the politics of division, doubt, and denial. The world is no longer "flat", and dinosaurs did NOT roam earth with man...

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 1:30 PM  

  • John Manley is Anglican and a lawyer. How did he qualify for Science Minister?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:43 PM  

  • "John Manley is Anglican and a lawyer. How did he qualify for Science Minister?"

    Was he a creationist?

    If so, then no, in my opinion he didn't qualify either.

    By Blogger RevDave, at 2:07 PM  

  • Yes, the Minister of Science should BE a scientist. If only because the bar is so low. You don't need a degree, you don't even need an education. You just need to understand, accept, and be able to apply the scientific method. By this test, Goodyear fails.

    By Anonymous Nerdbeard, at 2:35 PM  

  • Arguably the larger problem concerning Goodyear concerns his personal conduct in discussions with "key stakeholders" like CAUT. A shouting match? What kind of quack chiropractor is he?

    By Blogger Josh, at 3:11 PM  

  • "You don't need a degree, you don't even need an education. You just need to understand, accept, and be able to apply the scientific method. By this test, Goodyear fails."

    What a preposterous statement.

    What is your proof that Goodyear has failed? Not accepting one scientific assertion does not mean he isn't a scientifically-minded person.

    By Blogger Leeky Sweek, at 3:28 PM  

  • "What is your proof that Goodyear has failed? Not accepting one scientific assertion does not mean he isn't a scientifically-minded person."

    Maybe, but claiming that evolution is a theological question rather than a scientific one does seem to raise serious questions about what, in his mind, constitutes science.

    By Blogger RevDave, at 3:53 PM  

  • Actually, a lot of renowned scientists believe in God, or god of some kind.

    If Goodyear can't admit, though, that evolution has occurred, or admit that so far there's no scientific knowledge of humans and dinosaurs walking around together, then he's just a fucking idiot sadsack. Entitled to his views, and somehow legally elected by his constituents, but a total moron (and public coward) nonetheless.


    Anyway, he should be probably be removed from his post and swapped to another ministry, and he probably will be in time.

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 4:01 PM  

  • Excellent.

    Official Liberal policy is no science funding for ant Catholic, Jewish of Muslim scientists.

    After all, they each have a core belief in god creating the world.

    Almost makes me want to vote for Iggy

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:22 PM  

  • Actually, I'm sure Dan and/or the Liberals would be happy with a Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim scientist, so long as they were, y'know, a scientist.

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 4:54 PM  

  • I'll bet they would "respect" him plenty if he raised their funding instead of cutting it. This is an example of outside lobbying.

    This is not matter of outside lobbying. They think he is a moron. This matters for a whole host of reasons not the least of which is the Goodyear does not have a good relationship with the scienfitic community, lobbying wing if you prefer -- as it were.

    In the post Bush era Canada can not afford to look like it is going down the same road with regard to science that the Americans did under Bush. Right now that is exactly the message we are sending out.

    By Blogger Koby, at 5:07 PM  

  • post Bush era Canada can not afford to look like it is going down the same road with regard to science that the Americans did under Bush

    I'm not sure if other countries are really watching this dog and pony show, but that strikes me as a good point...

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 6:47 PM  

  • This doesn't have anything to do with Harper's ministers, but it does have something to do with the Alberta press. Anyway, guess which Lougheed minister torturned and murdered a Jewish boy? You can find the answer at http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=405744.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:21 PM  

  • So are Liberals admiting they are just as discriminatory as the Conservatives are?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:10 PM  

  • Bashing people who believe in Creationism does not help Liberals (and Ignatieff) to reach out to folks who did not vote for the Liberals in the last election.

    It is outright stupidity. Let's look at the 2008 U.S. election. In spite of a much hated Republican president, a UNITED RIGHT, feeling UNDER SIEGE, almost elected a complete nincompoop as vice-president.

    OBAMA got only 52.9% of the vote folks. Unlike the U.S. the LEFT in Canada is divided between multiple parties. A UNITED RIGHT, feeling UNDER SIEGE, results in Conservative minorities/majorities for many elections to come.

    Continued, partisan, Liberal crap attacking religious folks, and 4 Brampton ridings are going Blue in the next election.

    By Blogger MississaugaPeter, at 8:19 PM  

  • "You just need to understand, accept, and be able to apply the scientific method. By this test, Goodyear fails."

    1. The job of running the ministry of science actually has little to do with science. It isn't like you are in a lab every day. Understanding macroeconomics is of much greater importance than understanding science.

    2. You are suggesting that Goodyear is unscientific because he hasn't applied scientific method to his personal beliefs. By that criteria almost nobody qualifies to be minister of science (not even atheists, who hold a view for which there is no evidence).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:55 PM  

  • “Not accepting one scientific assertion does not mean he isn't a scientifically-minded person.”

    Oh Dear! How do you explain to a person who doesn't understand science that he doesn't understand science?

    Science is methodology and process. Evolution is no longer an 'assertion' or hypothesis. It is a proven theory because it has been abundantly researched and validated from multi-disciplinary work. It is a scientific theory (not just a philosophy) because it can be used to make precise predictions.

    There is no scientific alternative about how life developed on earth. Natural selection and genetic drift are the driving forces behind species change.

    An unbiased person with no scientific education should go with the scientific consensus. Those who are unable to accept the scientific evidence may have alternate ideas. Some of these 'hypothesis' are creative and imaginative.

    'The Big Valley Creation Science Museum is a museum in Big Valley, Alberta, Canada, dedicated to promoting the young Earth creationist form of creationism. It is Canada's first permanent creation museum.

    The museum measures 900 square feet (84 m2), cost C$280,000 to build, and was opened on June 5, 2007 by owner Harry Nibourg, an oil field service worker. It hosts 40 to 80 visitors weekly. Exhibits include an interactive display of the creationist claims about the bacterium flagellum, trace the ancestry of the British royal family to Adam and Eve, and present fossils as evidence for the flood of Noah.' (Wikipedia)

    In 2005, a Pennsylvania judge delivered a crushing and lengthy rebuttal to the intelligent design advocates (Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District). Read all about it.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:17 AM  

  • "Oh Dear! How do you explain to a person who doesn't understand science that he doesn't understand science?"

    With this statement I might think you might be referring to yourself:

    "It is a proven theory because it has been abundantly researched and validated from multi-disciplinary work."

    I am still waiting for someone who asserts this to be unquestionably true to provide proof. If science is methodology and process, as well as observation, hypothesis, and conclusion, then where is it?

    By Blogger Leeky Sweek, at 9:27 AM  

  • It all depends on how one interprets the quote as to whether or not it indicates an improper understanding of science. If by "we", he meant the human population as a whole; and if wearing heels gives a better chance of mating (something I'm willing to believe), then one can have selection for it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:28 AM  

  • Actually Jim, I've heard some very serious and even Nobel prize-winning scientists on CBC and other places discussing their faith in a divine being. They believe in some kind of 'creation' but look at it scientifically and believe in evolution.

    There is more than simply two sides.

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 9:57 AM  

  • Perhaps I went too far with my last sentence. But it remains my opinion that Goodyear may not understand, and does not accept the scientific method. And I guarantee his grasp of "macroeconomics" is even more tenuous.

    It is not because he does not apply the scientific method to his personal life that I fault him. That is impossible. There is a reason we do not use that sort of rigor for our everyday thinking. It is too expensive. One's life would be paralyzed. It is, as I more or less said, that he does not accept science. Not a particular theory or discovery, but science itself. I'd like to be able to show my work but that would be an entire article in itself. Perhaps I still will.

    This is not the first I have heard of Goodyear. I was exposed to his election campaign and he has made some pretty bizarre moves and statements prior to this little dance. I'm afraid he's -- again, in my opinion -- pretty much just what he appears to be. A sorry quack from Cambridge. (I'm sorry, Cambridge, that's just how it is.)

    By Anonymous Nerdbeard, at 11:05 AM  

  • I find it interesting that no one thinks the fact that he is a chiropractor puts him at odds with science.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 AM  

  • Leaky Sweek, you are looking for specific and undeniable proof, but it is not clear specifically of what. If you can make a simple, falsifiable proposition, I'll try to find proof or disproof of it.

    By Anonymous Nerdbeard, at 11:57 AM  

  • "I am still waiting for someone who asserts this to be unquestionably true to provide proof. If science is methodology and process, as well as observation, hypothesis, and conclusion, then where is it?"

    Leeky,

    Proves my point.

    You're looking for religion like the intelligent design people! Science isn't religion. It can't be a religion. Educated people use science as a discipline and a tool. Discipline means that you go with the demonstrable facts even if it is not what you would like to hear.

    “Actually Jim, I've heard some very serious and even Nobel prize-winning scientists on CBC and other places discussing their faith in a divine being.”

    Actually Ashley, belief in evolution (how life evolves) does not preclude belief in religion (the how and why life started). Please refer to the agnostics of the Victorian age. Science allows us to identify religious beliefs which are demonstrably false.

    The important difference is that religion is about the unknowable. Science deals with the knowable.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:45 PM  

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