Definitions of Science: Double Standards from Australian Government

The Australian legal system ruled on the definition of science some years ago, however, the Australian government is now pursuing the Japanese and their whaling program on the basis of an all together different definition, explains Charlotte Ramotswe.  

Dear Jennifer,

Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice disputing a basis of its whaling program – that it is scientific. You wrote about this recently in the blog post “Japan Attacks Aussie Moralising on Whaling”.Minke whale

In the international court, it seems that the Australian Government has argued that what the Japanese are doing does not constitute “science”. What is this thing called science? The subject has preoccupied philosophers and historian and been the subject of many books including a classic by A.F. Chalmers.

Let’s face it: at least the scientific whaling program does generate a lot of data and publications.

 In the history of this issue in Australia, there was the very famous case of “Harry Messel vs John Thomas Davern”, which was essentially about Messel and co-workers catching fish out of season, and shooting geese in a protected area, filleting them, and packing all the meat away for human consumption. It was claimed that this was done under a scientific permit to study crocodiles, and the science involved in this case was essentially throwing the filleted carcasses into the river and noting in the morning that all had gone. This case went all the way up to the High Court, and back to the Darwin Judiciary, and in the end Messel got off. Double Jeopardy and a string of complex courtroom battles ensued over years.

The final say by the Australian legal system was essentially that science is what a scientist thinks it is. The case started with guilty in a Magistrates court in Darwin, and the conviction was eventually squashed. The final determination, by Justice Gallop, should summarise the whole issue of “what constitutes science” at least for Australia. Despite the Australian legal system reaching this conclusion at home, the Australian government is now pursing the Japanese on the basis of an altogether alternative understanding of science in the International Court of Justice. What does this say about the Australian character and the Australian government?

Best wishes, Charlotte Ramotswe

The image of the Minke whale is via Wikipedia…

13 Responses to Definitions of Science: Double Standards from Australian Government

  1. spangled drongo August 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Good point Charlotte,

    How much science is involved in the whale killing is arguably nobody’s business but Japan’s.

    Australia’s attitude is arrogant.

    Being traditional whale-meat eaters with their own finite food supply, they are entitled to pursue the “science” of survival.

  2. Debbie August 1, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    It does appear that there are double standards.
    Your final question is a very good question. . . but I’m starting to suspect that the ‘Australian Government’ and the ‘Australian Character’ do not know each other very well at the moment.
    The ‘arrogant’ behaviour that SD mentions and that Jen highlighted at a previous post looks distinctly ‘un-Australian’ to me.
    Even though our current PM says things like ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle’ I don’t think he actually knows what that means in Australian colloquial/vernacular terms.
    The arrogant treatment of people like Bob Carter & the way Jen was treated by Media Watch are further examples (IMHO)

  3. Jim Clarke August 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Actually, Debbie, ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle’ is a muddling of two different sayings. It was used by the PM to appear as normal as every one else, but he still screwed it up

  4. Larry Fields August 2, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    How is science in the USA defined? I’m not sure about that. However there are legal precedents that determine which types of expert witness testimony qualify as scientific evidence.

    Up until 20 years ago, we were stuck with the Frye Standard, which is similar to the ‘consensus science’ that we all know and love. At the Federal level, this was replaced with the Daubert Standard. However some backward states still use Frye.

    There are several provisions of the Daubert Standard. Here’s one of them: Under Daubert, the judge is supposed to act as a gatekeeper in deciding what’s admissible as scientific testimony. It is the responsibility of the judge to use his common sense — along with whatever amount of scientific literacy he has accumulated — to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Conceivably a scientist, who is skeptical about AGW, could get his foot in the door of a Federal courtroom, under Daubert. I do not know if this has actually happened in the USA yet.

    If you want to read more about our modern Federal standard, here’s a link.

  5. Debbie August 2, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Yes… exactly Jim,
    The muddling indicates (to me) that he has very little idea and/or connection with the ‘normal’ character he was attempting to ‘appear normal’ to. 🙂
    He definitely screwed it up….which is amazing….one would reasonably assume that it shouldn’t be that difficult for an Australian to ‘appear normal’ to other ‘normal’ Australians.

  6. spangled drongo August 3, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Green attitudes love easy targets as do the MSM. Such as Japan, Israel, US etc who make big efforts in difficult situations to do the right thing for sustainability and the ROW.

    The hard, obscure targets rarely get a mention and sure gives the impression of double standards:

  7. Luke August 3, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    I had to laugh “at least the scientific whaling program does generate a lot of data and publications.” so did the Holocaust.

    But hey guys – wouldn’t you rather see its head blown off with a penthrite grenade. Wouldn’t that we much more fun. Particularly if they missed first time – we could all have a good laugh as it trashed around. Face it you love it !

    And all the data shows that the whales were “alive”. What an incredible finding.

    We must support the right of Japan to trash our sovereignty to ensure critical food supply for the huge whale meat market – and the enormous cultural history of steaming through the Southern Ocean in steel ships – golly they’ve been doing it for centuries.

    In fact lets get back to our cultural past – reinstate whaling – so you can go down to Byron and have a swim in the blood at the beach. There’ll be a demand for it and it’s our cultural heritage. We can go and shoot a few aboriginals afterwards. Just get back to cultural basics.

  8. jennifer August 3, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Hey Larry,

    I would be interested to learn more about the Daubert versus Frye Standards.

  9. Debbie August 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Good grief Luke!
    Irrational hyperbole overload!
    Can’t see anywhere where anyone has suggested anything remotely like your accusations above.

  10. Luke August 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Gotta look after that cultural heritage Debs

  11. Debbie August 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Ever heard of the middle ground Luke?
    Just because people find the behaviour in the international court of justice is extreme or rather ‘over the top’ and tainted with double standards… does not automatically mean that people think the other extreme is any more justifiable or acceptable.

  12. Luke August 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Yes I find the sophistry of the pseudo science program tainted with double standards.

    And wasn’t being extreme. It’s our cultural heritage ! Why find it irksome Debs. Surely you’ll like to swim in the blood and guts at Byron – don’t be shy now.

  13. Larry Fields August 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Comment from: jennifer August 3rd, 2013 at 11:13 am
    “Hey Larry,
    I would be interested to learn more about the Daubert versus Frye Standards.”

    Perhaps we could persuade cohenite to read and comment on the two Wiki articles. My understanding is that he’s a lawyer in his day job.

    Nuances of the law are not my strong suit. And once the reading material gets above a certain level of complexity, my tired brain shuts down.

    I learned about Frye and Daubert from the late Glenn Burress. Back in the day, he was the foremost expert on economic policy. He correctly forecast all of the ups and downs of the 1970s. And yes, that includes the Oil Shock of 1979, which is another story. One of these days, I’ll trundle on down to a university library, and look up his old column in the Journal of Commerce.

    However Glenn was largely shunned by orthodox economists. And the hard feelings went both ways. Even though Glenn’s PhD was in Economics, he described himself as a Systems Scientist, in the tradition of John Maynard Keynes and Buckminster Fuller.

    The upshot: The Warmists were definitely not the first academic mafiosi to get a stranglehold on policy-making in the ‘Free World’.

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