Update 30/4As this one still seems to be alive, having veered from the Murray to libertarianism to the appropriate mode of address for yours truly, I thought I’d move it back up to the top of the page
The most important representative of party-line science in Australia is the Institute of Public Affairs, which models its approach closely on that of rightwing thinktanks in the US. It has promoted critics of scientific research on passive smoking , funded by the tobacco industry, (for an IPA defence of this practice, read here), critics of scientific research on global warming (funded by the fossil fuel industry), and has more generally bagged scientists and research organisations whose research produces commercially inconvenient findings. Targets have included the World Health Organization, the National Health and Medical Research Council and of course, the International Panel on Climate Change, as well as many individual scientists.
The mode is identical to that of Milloy and Tech Central Station. Where the general scientific basis is strong (as in arguments about the safety of GM foods) opponents are assailed as anti-scientific irrationalists. Where it is weak (as in the cases of smoking and global warming) the IPA demands equal time for sceptics, even sceptics who have done no original research and have no relevant qualifications. The strategy is one of selective citation of evidence that supports a predetermined outcome, mixed with protestations of support for open inquiry and the scientific method. As far as I know, the IPA has never found a case where the evidence supports more environmental regulation, or even a continuation of existing regulations.
The latest target of the IPA, and one close to home for me, is the sustainable management of the Murray-Darling Basin.
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