The Rise of Ignorance
20 September 2019
I grew up convinced that as knowledge spread humanity would advance. Society would become more secular and decisions would be evidence-based. I studied medicine, which tries to be a science and the people I worked with mostly had a regard for truth and willingness to listen to sensible arguments.
Then I found the subsidies for religion increasing. I spoke of ‘evidence-based legislation’ in NSW Parliament and was met with guffaws.
I saw the change in the age of consent legislation lower the age for males from 18 to 17, and raise it from 16 to 17 in females without a single statistic or fact on what actually happens in reality.
Now we have defunding of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the ABC, CSIRO, and money given to mates rather than the Barrier Reef Foundation. We have subsidies for unqualified Chaplain counsellors in schools and no money for psychologists, as mental health problems grow.
We watch the Americans, where the Public Service is a rump that is largely replaced by the contacts of each new incumbent President so there is a problem with policy consistency, much worsened in the Trump era. Now we look to go in the same direction with Morrison stating that the Public Service needs to be more responsive to its political masters. But now he has got rid of Michael Parkinson, the most respected public servant of our time two years early, and put in a party hack with no particular expertise. The sure way to make bad decisions is to have no one who is a competent and independent source of advice.
I have watched this happen in Sydney Water when I worked there and in Safework, which impinges on what I do now.
Andrew Wilkie talked about it in foreign policy as we were shoehorned into the Iraq war by John Howard, despite 74% of Australians opposing the war the war and the biggest demonstration since the Vietnam War. (I can proudly say that I was on the organising Committee).
Our political system is worsening its ‘winner takes all’ approach and getting further from sensible decisions and consensus than ever.
Power is getting disconnected from Knowledge, and is simply beating it up.
Here is an article in AIM that spells it out: