A CBC columnist, Robyn Urback, has taken it upon herself to criticize the Governor-General of Canada, Julie Payette, for supposedly mocking people who deny climate change or evolution.
The title of Urback’s essay is “In what universe is it appropriate for a Governor General to deride people for their beliefs?”
The beliefs that Governor-General Payette questioned are pernicious falsehoods. They need to be questioned.
Urback declares that the Governor-General has an obligation to be politically neutral. But whether climate change is occurring is a matter of fact, not an item on a party political platform.
Urback writes: “… had Payette flippantly dismissed traditional Indigenous healing methods instead of cancer patients taking sugar pills, I doubt she’d be afforded the defences she’s currently enjoying from many observers.”
I suppose that this is true. But I also suspect that “traditional Indigenous healing methods” are just another example of the placebo effect at work.
Good medicine has a placebo effect; it also works in the absence of the placebo effect and without harmful side-effects that negate its benefits. Bad medicine works no better that a placebo and sometimes has harmful side-effects.
Physicians have an obligation to recommend and provide good medicine. If they did not, they would be negligent at best. Everyone else has an obligation to support physicians in this.
Evolution? There is a difference between diseases that are spread inter-personally and vector-borne diseases. The former tend to become less virulent but the latter do not. Prayer meetings would spread the former but not the latter. Only evolution and science can tell us which is which.
Climate change? It is a threat to all humanity, and deniers stand in the way of effective action to ameliorate it.
In what world is it appropriate to indulge the ignorant and the irrational when they endanger the innocent?
Three cheers for Julie Payette.