The great Windschuttle hoax

The publication by Keith Windschuttle of a hoax article on science has been all over the papers and the blogs. I agree with Tim Lambert (who gives lots of links) that the article sounds reasonable by comparison with the nonsense commonly published on scientific topics by Quadrant.

Just before this, I was thinking about another hoax, namely the repeated promise of a Volume 2 of The Fabrication of Australian History. When Volume 1 came out back in 2002, Windschuttle promised further volumes on an annual schedule, covering Queensland and WA. Since Queensland in particular was the focus of Henry Reynolds’ main work, and since the evidence of numerous massacres seems incontrovertible, this promised volume was central to Windschuttle’s claims of fabrication. The promise was repeated year after year, but no Volume 2 ever appeared, and the “research” supposedly already undertaken has stayed out of sight.

Then in February 2008, Windschuttle published extracts from a Volume 2, promised for publication “later this year”, but now on a totally different topic, that of the Stolen Generation. His target this time was Peter Read, an eminent historian who’s done a lot of practical work reuniting Aboriginal children with their birth families. It’s 2009, the promised volume hasn’t appeared, and there hasn’t been any reference to it on Windschuttle’s site for some time.

The real hoax victims here have been those on the political right, who’ve repeatedly swallowed Windschuttle’s promises to refute well-established facts about Australian history “later this year” and who are now getting their “science” from his discredited magazine.

137 thoughts on “The great Windschuttle hoax

  1. Shorter JD “the dog ate my homework”

    As Reynolds says, quoted in the passage, the evidence is overwhelming. Here’s an example which took five seconds to find on Google, citing among others Geoffrey Blainey as a source

    http://www.kalkadoon.org/index.php/history/

    But the absence of Windschuttle’s v2 is even better evidence – if he had looked and found nothing, he would certainly be saying so.

  2. Get a life, John Dawson. I sometimes trap and kill rabbits on my property and so do my neighbours. Since each individual rabbit death isn’t recorded does that mean it didn’t happen? Isn’t it reasonable for someone to draw conclusions on how many rabbits are killed by landowners each year by using indirect evidence?

    For obvious reasons there will be no documented record of many, maybe most frontier killings and hence historians must make inferences that are necessarily no more than educated guesses.

  3. So, since 1981, Reynolds has been saying: “I’ve got nothing [more] to offer, so I’ll just say again what I said last time”, which is that 10,000 were killed in Queensland, and I have mountains of evidence for this, but it’s too depressing/I have no space/I don’t feel like presenting it for scrutiny.

    And since 2002 Windschuttle has been saying: “I’ve got nothing [more] to offer, so I’ll just say again what I said last time”, that Reynolds has produced no evidence to back his Queensland estimate.

    And according to the self-righteous, self-perpetuating, self-deceiving academic mindset this makes Windschuttle the big hoaxer, while they simply ignore the demolition of their Tasmanian genocide thesis or respond with more misrepresentation, adhominem and vilification.

    It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic that this is what passes for academic scholarship in this country.

  4. @53 – John Dawson “Alganna said: “Universities encompass all views” Of course they do, the full spectrum, from Lenin to Trotsky, and everything inbetween.”
    Why do you say such silly things – how is your comment true of the work of my colleagues and I in Neuroscience? Or the work of others in Maths or Music or Management or Tourism or Physiotherapy or Nursing etc etc? Why do you denigrate the valuable work produced by academics in teaching and research?

  5. You are right nanks, there are some real scholars in academia who do very important work. A few of these, a very few, are in humanities and social science departments.

  6. JD
    John Dawson Says:
    January 10th, 2009 at 2:53 am
    Alganna said: “Universities encompass all views” Of course they do, the full spectrum, from Lenin to Trotsky, and everything inbetween.

    This is exactly the point I am trying to make. A society for historians forms (an apolitical society of labour historians) and the ratbags amongst us set about destroying it and making accusations that it is ?”a secret society of communists.” That was US funded campaign of McCarthyism. I thought I lived in a tolerant country JD and I intend to fight for tolerance in our society. Stereotyping people in groups (such as all those in universities) as “dangerous” just because some MAY have different political views to you or want to belong to a different political party is the truly dangerous thing for a TOLERANT society.

    Time to end the witch hunt of the last vestiges of McCarthyism JD.

    We live in Australia not America and I resent the US funding, political infliltration, and the pathetic and foolish Australians prepared to avail themselves of financial opportunity from it (and in so doing rob Australia of tolerance in our society).

    Windschuttle is one of those weak individuals.

  7. oh for heavens sake John Dawson what is this fantasy world you inhabit? There was just a Senate Inquiry into bias at Universities which found no evidence. You can’t be taken seriously.

  8. As I said JD – I only found out about this a mere few years ago. I am a swinging voter but this 40 year witchhunt, the McCarthyism behind it, the role of US funding being deployed into our society to influence peoples voting habits and to smear innocent people (for their political views) and Quadrants role in it, and Windschuttles role in it has me absolutely disgusted.

    We live in Australia and I will commit myself towards the objective of a tolerant society simply by stating the facts – I do not like the use of dangerous stereotypes and the misuse of the media to further political objectives disguised as science (or anti science) and I do not like what I read in any of this debate.

  9. OK Dawson, you’ve made a claim about facts, that being all Australian university academics have views ranging from Trotsky to Lenin. The question is will you now do a “Windschuttle” and name and document each individual case or will you do a “Reynolds” and simply spew out propaganda to support your claim.

    Come on champ, prove that you’re something more than a broccoli and radish hawker with a chip on his shoulder.

  10. melaleuca Says: Get a life, John Dawson.

    Thanks for the advice melaleuca, believe me there are things I would rather be doing, but these academics keep outdoing themselves in the preposterous-argument stakes, and I get sucked in again.

    melaleuca Says: I sometimes trap and kill rabbits on my property and so do my neighbours…. Isn’t it reasonable for someone to draw conclusions on how many rabbits are killed by landowners each year by using indirect evidence?

    Sure – but where is Reynolds’s direct, indirect, or any other evidence to back his claims, except: “trust me, it’s all here at my place, I just don’t want to show it”?

    melaleuca Says: For obvious reasons there will be no documented record of many, maybe most frontier killings and hence historians must make inferences that are necessarily no more than educated guesses.

    What obvious reasons? Either you claim that the murder of Aborigines would be condemned and prosecuted, in which case there would be an obvious reason for it to be hushed up, but in that case the deaths can’t be blamed on the authorities; or you say that the authorities turned a blind eye or condoned such murders, in which case there would be no obvious reason to hush them up. The black armband-ers switch back and forth between these two scenarios depending on the stage of the argument they are at.

    There might have been a sensible case to be made that could have gone something like this: “Okay, Windschuttle, you have presented a tally of 120 killings of blacks in Tasmania, but you should add this killing because of this evidence and these killings because of this evidence, and over and above this, because of this evidence, we think there were killings that went unrecorded, and therefore it is reasonable to assume that the death toll was probably more like, say, double that figure”. If the response of the academics had been something like that we could have had a sensible debate and truth and justice would have been served. Instead, the academics frothed at the mouth and embarked on a campaign that amounted to: “how dare he contradict the orthodoxy and show up our fabrications, we must gang up to destroy his credibility by any means necessary”. The “Great Windschuttle Hoax” that delights academia so much is just one tiny manifestation of this disgraceful approach.

    Alanna talks hysterical nonsense.

    melaleuca Says: Come on champ, prove that you’re something more than a broccoli and radish hawker with a chip on your shoulder.

    Ah, to be dealing with something as healthy as broccoli and radish again! For my proof read my book: http://www.macleaypress.com/Washout.htm

  11. John, if I may reply to John Dawson by saying at the time Windschuttle’s wrote his fallacious piece of history it was well known that tens of thousands of aboriginies inhabited the Sydney Basin and debunks the erroneous argument that this land was terra nullius. Maybe if Windschuttle understood aboriginal culture just a tad he may have learnt that there was a direct relationship between a totem and the ownership of the land.

  12. Michael of Summer Hill, like so many Windschuttle critics, can’t have read his book, if he had he would know that Windschuttle didn’t say anything about terra nullius.

  13. You flatter me JD but the facts are out there – lists of “names” from released ASIO documents 30 years later, of so called “communists” “reds” “lefties” (and so what – this is Australia and we all recognise the dishonesty and danger any democracy of the McCarthy period – it was witchunt that destroyed innocent people’s lives).All these innocuous Australians names compiled and documented by paid conservative sycophants with funding from US and Australian well resourced sources (likely Wall street power brokers and Australian scions of industry)- the very same merchants who have probably pushed for the removal of most forms of regulation over the past 40 years that, in any way curtailed their ability to rent seek (the same sort of rent seekers responsible for the almighty mess we are in now).

    They dont like governments because they have the power to moderate corporate excess.

    Follow the money trail is good advice that holds in this case very very well JD and if you or Windschuttle had an academic history researcher’s bootlace – you wouldnt be in here saying such stupid things now.

    Yet all you do is keep pointing the witchdoctor’s stick at imaginary red ghosts without noticing time has passed it by. The recent coalition government excelled at political pointscoring by scaring the electorate to death. One scare after another. Not much of a government if they had to stoop to that, but thats my opinion. Where have the moderates gone in that party (scare campaigns also mounted within I would suggest).

    JD – you need to recognise when politicians go too far. It can happen in any political party. Blind faith to one party is never a good idea.

  14. Ben says “Lol – this is turning into, excuse the phrase, a ‘wingnut circle jerk’, with the leftie/pinko/moonbats squaring off against the rightwing/nazi/deathbeasts.”

    Ben, I agree. The extent to which a lot of these debates have become bogged down in knee-jerk partisan barracking has become quite tiresome and boring.

    The truth is that a lot of left-leaning publications and forums would be every bit as vulnerable to this kind of hoax trolling as Quadrant was.

    I’m sure that I could quite easily draft a bogus article making a whole lot of false and exaggerated claims about (say) the level of economic inequality, throw in a bit of well-worn rhetoric about ‘Australia’s great egalitarian traditions being undermined by neo-liberalism and excessive individualism’, and then submit it for publication to The Age, Dissent, the Monthly, or Eureka Street, and it wouldn’t take long for someone to take the bait.

  15. Nick,

    The point is – it doesnt matter whether the ideological view becomes too far to the left or too far to the right, that is, the particular direction is irrelevant – both are dangerous. The most valuable thing that each person has is their vote and it should not be given away lightly or unquestioningly. There are a lot of people in Zimbabwe who still vote for Mugabe – those people obviously cant see dishonesty and poor management in politics (or perhaps they are too frightened). I just hope the majority view favours common sense and sound, honest, civil, ethical, leadership; not unduly influenced by large business, or unions, or developers, or media manipulation by vested interest groups (such as Quadrant et al). I acknowledge media manipulation can go both ways but as always the extreme right is better resourced but as for your argument about inequality – you better go look up some numbers if you think worsening inequality is a left view rather than a fact (again the distortion of reputable data by Peter Saunders and others in social welfare policy research as a “supposed lefty view” by the likes of another Peter Saunders – now moved to London I understand – perhaps the pickings got too slim here).
    I dont like to see good people’s work twisted and misprepresented by fanatics Nick. Its fairly simple. You give respect where respect is due and I have respect for Australian academics even if others in this discussion dont. I have little respect for the deriders.

  16. Has Dawson a reference for the following quote?

    So, since 1981, Reynolds has been saying: “I’ve got nothing [more] to offer, so I’ll just say again what I said last time”,

    Or is this a fabrication?

  17. How does Dawson place Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, in between Lenin and Trotsky?

    Or was his statement a fabrication?

  18. Chris Warren Said: Has Dawson a reference for the following quote?

    So, since 1981, Reynolds has been saying: “I’ve got nothing [more] to offer, so I’ll just say again what I said last time”, Or is this a fabrication?

    Dawson replies: It was paraphrasing jquiggin, so I guess it could have been a fabrication.

    Chris Warren Said: How does Dawson place Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, in between Lenin and Trotsky?

    Or was his statement a fabrication?

    Dawson replies: Gee, you got me – it was not only a fabrication but a hyperbole too.

  19. John Dawson, irrespective of my above comments, I do believe there is a significant element of black-armbandism in how indigenous cultures are viewed. But you take it to an hysterical extreme. Take a chill pill.

  20. Its not the fabrications that count now – or who has fabricated – it is the economic policy failure of a series of governments in Australia from Fraser, Hawke Keating through Howard that adopted extremist economic policies and failed to achieve constitutional change (to correct the vertical fiscal imbalance) that contribued to C’wealth fiscal control that liquidated large parts of the public sector. (Not just Howard – Hawke Keating as well). This has greatly increased unemployment relative to the three decades post WW2 years because people forgot the ability of governments to add to demand and the nature of public goods and services. Thats why I object (not to WQindschuttles rantings about a stupid left, or any political party in particular – I couldnt care less – both major parties in Australia are guilty of mismanagement – for decades – and I do object to the denials (state of permanent denials) coming from succesive governments and the general state of degradation of public infrastructure through lack of public investment).

    For some foolish man like Windschuttle (and friends) – oh and you can add Keating and Hawke and Howard to the ship of fools of economic extremism, to go around castigating and stripping public infrastructure and public services has more in common with social system destruction, than sound governance to me.

  21. Alanna, I am not saying that leftist commentators or academics are the only ones to blame for the current state of debate in Australia. I was merely referring to those who want to condemn Windschuttle for falling for this hoax, when in fact many other people would be just as vulnerable to such a hoax.

    That is what I am objecting to. The kind of knee-jerk barracking and triumphalism every time the other side takes a hit, without anyone stopping to consider each case on its merits or whether others could have just as easily made such an error. The truth is that everyone lets their eye off the ball sometimes, and I’m sure people other than Windschuttle have occasionally failed to thoroughly scrutinise every article submitted to them (especially when, like Quadrant, it is merely a magazine for opinion pieces, not a peer-reviewed journal).

    I realise it’s not just one side of politics that contributes to these problems. The standard of conservative commentary in this country (such as Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt, Piers Ackerman) is not particularly good either. There are only so many articles you can read turning every issue into a simplistic divide between so-called inner city urban latte-sippers and the so-called commonsense, average folk before you start to want some more considered analysis of the issues.

  22. John Dawson wrote:
    it is a logical impossibility to prove a negative
    Nnnnnnnnnnnrgh…
    I invite you to consider the following statement:

    It is not the case that there exists a square which has (at most) three sides.

    Now, as for Windschuttle, we are talking not about logical deduction but about empirical claims. As such, it’s true that he cannot prove that (say) 10,000 aboriginals were not killed during some specified time period. But it would be disingenuous to pretend that this is what the debate is about. What’s at issue is what we have reason to believe – or, what claims are consistent with the evidence.

    If Windschuttle believes that (a) the evidence does not support Reynolds’ claims about aboriginal deaths, and/or (b) there is evidence supporting some different claim about aboriginal deaths, then it is certainly his responsibility to provide us with his arguments and evidence. That he has not done so means that we have no reason to believe his claims.

  23. Nick#75
    “There are only so many articles you can read turning every issue into a simplistic divide”

    On that point I completely agree. Its the divide over left and right and meanwhile the economic policies to do whats needed dont get done. The Commonwealth plays politics with State funding and the State invent new ways to user charge us, and the infrastructure is left to rot while politicians play hockey.

    I pay taxes and deserve better governance than the great “footy grand final – yobs and all” that characterises Australian politics and media political discourse. Im actually completely over the words left and right and sometimes even wonder if there are any decent economic advisers left in whats remains of government systems.

  24. Brucetta said: Now, as for Windschuttle, we are talking not about logical deduction but about empirical claims. As such, it’s true that he cannot prove that (say) 10,000 aboriginals were not killed during some specified time period. But it would be disingenuous to pretend that this is what the debate is about. What’s at issue is what we have reason to believe – or, what claims are consistent with the evidence.

    I agree.

    Brucetta continued: If Windschuttle believes that (a) the evidence does not support Reynolds’ claims about aboriginal deaths, and/or (b) there is evidence supporting some different claim about aboriginal deaths, then it is certainly his responsibility to provide us with his arguments and evidence. That he has not done so means that we have no reason to believe his claims.

    I disagree.

    (a) Windschuttle’s claim that the evidence does not support Reynolds’ claims about 10,000 aboriginal deaths was proved in 2000 when he revealed that the only reference Reynolds had given in support of his claim was a paper which presented no evidence of black deaths at all. From 1981 to 2000 everyone, including Windschuttle, quoted Reynolds’s estimate assuming it was solidly backed by empirical data. Then, when Windschuttle investigated the paper, he discovered that it recorded only whites being killed by blacks, and that Reynolds had simply multiplied the number of whites killed (850) by 10 and rounded it up to arrive at his figure of 10,000 blacks killed by whites. Reynolds then asserted that he had mountains of other evidence but declined to present it for scrutiny. Until he does, Windschuttle has nothing more he needs to, or can disprove.

    (b) To my knowledge Windschuttle has not made any claim as to what the real death toll in Queensland was. He has made a claim about the Tasmanian death toll. His tally of black deaths for which there is credible evidence of some kind was 120. After all the huffing and puffing by the academics was said and done, they came up with just one black death that Windschuttle had missed. So his tally now stands at 121. None of Windschuttle’s critics have ventured any tally to back any specific estimate to challenge his case, they prefer scholarly tactics such as calling him a holocaust denier, hoaxer etcetera.

  25. For Windschuttle there was never any middle ground. He criticsed other historians estimates who he blanket stereotypes as “left”, people far more able than himself, but offered no alternative estimates and let us remember that estimates may be used in historical research given a paucity of documents. If this was not the case history could not be written. History is not a series of irrefutable empirical facts. In many cases there arent any. Windschuttle demands ironclad irrefutable fact without realising that the science he devotes himself too cannot provide such a thing in all circumstances and he would be well aware of that. It is up to Windschuttle to provide an alternative “estimate” given he is suggesting Ryan’s too high. How would Windschuttles have proceeded ? Lets hear it?

    What Windschuttle was expecting was unrealistic for the discipline and he would have been well aware of that.

    Let us not digress from Windschuttle’s real objective – to pick meticulously through footnotes to discredit (not just a few but a lot of) people Windschuttle perceived and decided and announced were “leftwing.”

    What facts and what evidence did Windschuttle base his observation that these academics were left?
    Did he present any evidence or facts for that? Was he aware of their voting patterns for the past decade or two? Had he followed them into polling booths? Did he have access to electoral data?

    That is the greatest fabrication in the entire debate and far more telling than the number of black deaths.

  26. Alanna has a good point re estimates. For a current example, look at the disparity between the numbers at Iraq Body Count, and the handful of statistical studies about excess deaths. IBC has impeccable evidence for their tally, but such rigorous requirements mean they undercount actual deaths. How far under the real number, no-one knows for certain, but that it is less is obvious. Therefore pointing to recorded deaths (in Iraq or Tasmania) as some sort of repudiation of an estimate is mendacious.

  27. Jarra said: “Therefore pointing to recorded deaths (in Iraq or Tasmania) as some sort of repudiation of an estimate is mendacious.”

    So how could any “estimate” ever be repudiated?

  28. “So how could any “estimate” ever be repudiated?”

    As Windschuttle did, by criticising the methods and sources. Which is fair enough. But to say “I can only confirm 121 deaths” is neither – it’s an error of composition.

  29. To my knowledge Windschuttle has not made any claim as to what the real death toll in Queensland was. He has made a claim about the Tasmanian death toll. His tally of black deaths for which there is credible evidence of some kind was 120. After all the huffing and puffing by the academics was said and done, they came up with just one black death that Windschuttle had missed. So his tally now stands at 121. None of Windschuttle’s critics have ventured any tally to back any specific estimate to challenge his case, they prefer scholarly tactics such as calling him a holocaust denier, hoaxer etcetera.

    The big problem with Windschuttle’s estimate of the Tasmanian death toll is that it is absolutely ludicrous to expect that one can simply derive a death toll by counting up the bodies listed in the historical records. It is enormously likely that large numbers of casualties will be missed. While I don’t agree with comparing Windschuttle to a holocaust denier, he practically begs people to do it to him by using a methodology which is specifically design to give a large undercount.

  30. It’s interesting that Windschuttle is being pilloried for not producing a tally (for Queensland) and for producing a tally (for Tasmania).

    Jarra and Ken Miles.

    In Fabrication Vol 1 Windschuttle exposed the exaggerations and fabrications of academic historians that had supported the Tasmanian genocide myth. If he had left it at that the black-armbanders could have continued making vague statements about bloody massacres and “general estimates” of the death toll. The only way to combat that misleading approach was to tally up the evidence of killings that had any credibility and explain why other massacre stories had no credibility. This could be done surprisingly thoroughly because, as everyone agrees, the colonization of Tasmania was particularly well documented, officially, unofficially, and by the likes of G. A. Robertson who spent years with the Aborigines recording what they told him.

    As I said above, Windschuttle’s work could have led to a sensible debate about the evidence and the likelihood of unrecorded killings etcetera. Instead the academics chose lynch-mob tactics – a strong indication that Windschuttle’s case is factually and logically (if not politically) correct.

  31. Windschuttle has ultimately done history a service, but he has said some things that are callous and others that are downright barbaric.

    It’s worth pointing out at this point that the white man’s disease killed far more Aborigines than the white man’s gun or poison.

  32. *sigh* …What is this John Dawson, groundhog day? It has already been pointed out (years ago I might add) that academic historians such as Reynolds and Ryan did not, despite what Windschuttle asserts, claim that Tasmania was a site where genocide occurred. Windschuttle misrepresented their work, mixed up what they were arguing with non specialist authors such as Phillip Knightly, then refused to acknowledge any correction despite both historians protestations – a position which he holds to this day. See Bain Attwood’s account of this is ‘Telling the truth about Aboriginal History’Allen and Urwin. 2005 pp 87-100. which is available online in a two second google search.

  33. melaleuca: Your observation about diseases versus guns is exactly Windschuttle’s point.

    But what has he said that is “callous and … downright barbaric”?

  34. As Vicki Grieves noted very well in 2003

    “Though Windschuttle poses as the ‘value free’, ‘objective’ and ‘thorough’ historian, he ignores any evidence that contradicts his argument. There are several telling instances of this. Evidence given by an Irish ex-convict, Edward White, to the 1830 Select Committee about the incident at Risdon Cove has been ignored, while the testimonies of Moore and Mountgarret, military men and participants, have been carefully edited. White testified to the peaceable intentions of the Indigenous Tasmanians and described a massacre of ‘a great many of the natives’.Whatever else Windschuttle’s omission can be described as, it is not the methodology of an historian.

    Windschuttle’s treatment of the situation of Tasmanian Indigenous women is so flawed that it almost defies explanation. His is a tirade of point-scoring in which he does not stop to question the motives of his sources. Neither does he consider that the motives of the Tasmanians may be culturally based, for example to incorporate the British into their society by the offering of women as ‘wives’. He does not consider the impacts of being in a state of war and socially, culturally, economically dislocated and with their backs to the wall. Perhaps this is why women were traded for so little goods; it was all the receiver was willing to give, from a position of greater, even ultimate power. He appeals to a sense of moral outrage at the trading of a 14-year-old girl. It is useful to remember that the age of consent in Britain was only 12 years until 1885 and remained at 14 years until 1910 in NSW. When the gaze is turned on the culture and society of the coloniser, the situation for ‘white’ women is less than optimal in this period.”

    I suppose also that Windschuttle conveniently overlooked the fact that white female convicts were also treated apallingly and handed out like chattel at wharves after being transported for very minor crimes, relative to male convicts.

    Had Windschuttle honed his craft in a more balanced fashion and more objectively, or even entered the debate and repudiated what he didnt agree with in a civil intellectual and academic manner (instead of deriding people as one left wing stereotype ie name calling), he might have drawn to himself more respect as a genuine historian and somewhat less negative attention. In the long run his pursuit of political objectives, via historiography, has cost him his credibility as a historian.

  35. JD, the post makes one complaint about Windschuttle: he (twice) made claims that were to be supported in Volume 2, and in neither case has he delivered. Despite many comments, you haven’t responded to this complaint.

  36. sigh* You are wrong on every point cow says moo. For an update on the arguments of Reynolds, Lyndall Ryan and James Boyce on this issue, I refer you to my article in Quadrant November 2008. With regard to Atwood: In The Australian, 6 January 2003, he claimed that Windschuttle “misses the point” of Ryan’s use of the Nazi analogy in the introduction to her book. Ryan, insisted Attwood, discussed the analogy in order to debunk the “myth of extermination”. But it is Attwood who missed the point. Ryan clearly implied that the British, like the Nazis, tried to exterminate a race, but “did not quite succeed”. In her review of Fabrication published 17 December 2002, Ryan stated unambiguously that her book:”asserts that the Tasmanian Aborigines did indeed constitute a threat to British settlers, that the Black War was ‘a conscious policy of genocide’, though not in the end a successful one, as the Aborigines survived.”

    Attwood could have been confused in January 2003, but by the time he wrote his book he must have known that his claim on this issue was invalid, but he chose to repeat it anyway. And in the very chapter in which he denounced Windschuttle for linking him with the genocide thesis Attwood states that: “In the case of Tasmania, the Aboriginal spokesperson Jim Everett has asserted that a ‘colonial holocaust’ occurred there, while another leader, Michael Mansell, has claimed more generally that: ‘the British had more impact on Aborigines than the Holocaust had on the Jews. In dismissing the claims of genocide, ‘revisionists’ similarly failed to grasp that many Aboriginal people believe that ‘genocide’ is an appropriate word for remembering the historical experience. It amounts to a truthful myth, and they tell the story in this manner.”

  37. Rather unimaginative, John Quiggin, to suppose that Windschuttle’s failure to produce Vol 2 of Fambrication so far is either a hoax or otherwise reprehensible. It apparently took Henry Reynolds decades of reading to achieve what he regards as sufficient mastery of the Queensland material. And Windschuttle may have begun to see the Queensland leg as a lot longer and tougher than that for Tasmania, especially as the description of some battles like that of future Police Commissioner Urquhart and his native police in 1883 at Battle Mountain would have made Windschuttle’s primary case less clear cut than for Tasmania. Besides, a man as busy as Windschuttle, without the resources behind him that “Alanna” fantasises about, might have had other reasons for changing his priorities. Even a second bomb as well designed and executed as Vol 1 would only add marginally to the total effect of Windschuttle’s exposure of the deficiencies of a large part of Australia’s academic historians. In the meantime he has published many pieces, mostly in Quadrant under Paddy McGuinness’s editorship, on false versions of Aboriginal history.
    FWIW I commend this comment on another blog from Julius : “Another small point: Windschuttle obiously published it for the reasoning rather than the factual premises underlying the reasoning so treated the facts with indifference, presumably because he knew (or believed, correctly I suggest) that another set of facts could be found and substantiated to support the thrust of the article even if not as sensational as the CSIRO behaving in the extraordinarily craven way depicted. At least that is my suspicion about his failure to arrange for the footnotes to be checked. It is a more commonplace explanation than one which is given in portentous terms of Windschuttle’s ideological fixations.

    And on the underlying substance, is it not worth considering the conditions of the nineteenth century when one’s great-grandparents had as many children as nature allowed and the pressures of expanding populations in a world where barely 2 or 3 per cent of people were comfortably prosperous by today’s standards and understand that right and wrong are much more difficult to discern than seems so today. Following a link you gave and finding, eventually, David Lowe’s “FORGOTTEN REBELS
    Black Australians Who Fought Back” even the most belligerent settlers come across as economically driven and no more tribal or racist that the more extreme Zionists (and less violent in words than Hamas or Hezbollah or the Iranian PM). It mightn’t suite Windschuttle’s case entirely, or anyone else’s, but it is hard to see how things could have been much different in the late 19th century than the fighting of a war which had no clear rules or conventions, let alone treaties, to govern it. Practically none of the connotations of the word genocide, let alone its literal meaning, apply to what the colonial authorities sought to do, though many tough minded, not to say callous, realists clearly anticipated the virtual extinction of some Aboriginal peoples with equanimity and even a grim satisfaction. One comparison with the most obvious idea that “genocide” brings to mind is to point out that the mixture of motives for German anti-Semitism, including not least religion and rancorous envy, had no part in the motivation of white frontier settlers and their supporting police.

  38. “Windschuttle’s work could have led to a sensible debate about the evidence and the likelihood of unrecorded killings etcetera. Instead the academics chose lynch-mob tactics”

    Perhaps they chose to respond in kind? As Alanna and others have noted, Windschuttle was rather denigrating, and not above (what could be seen as) fabrications himself. Such an approach doesn’t seem designed to provoke “sensible debate”.

  39. Professor Quiggin. I thought I had responded re Reynolds and Queensland. I haven’t been following the “stolen generation” debate so I can’t respond re that. As Jerimiah explains there could be a number of reasons for delayed delivery of Vol. 2. Windschuttle doesn’t have tenured income, research assistants, ARC grants and all the other publicly funded support that academics take for granted. He wouldn’t be the first writer to underestimate the tasks in front of him or overestimate his capacities or be diverted by unforeseen circumstances or findings, and one of the (erroneous) criticisms leveled at him over Vol. 1 was that he had spent insufficient time to possibly get it right. How that adds up to a hoax in your mind is beyond me. But I guess if it’s the best you’ve got to divert attention from the chronic defaults and distortions of the academics or get revenge for Windschuttle’s disclosure thereof, you have to make what you can of it.

  40. John – Lyndal Ryan used the term but with a different meaning and in any case she was not even writing about the frontier period which was the topic of Windschuttle’s book. I invite readers to have a look at Attwood’s explanation.

    And what does it matter how Aboriginal people view their experiences of colonisation – the pieces Attwood quotes? If they view it as a trauma then they would know surely.

    I’m curious John do you have any historical training in historiography?

    Sorry must run my partner is giving birth to twins this morning!

  41. Jarrah said: “Perhaps they chose to respond in kind?” If they had done that, the sensible debate could have followed. Fabrication is indomitable but it does not engage in the adhominem and misrepresentation that characterizes the academics’ responses. Critics should try reading it.

  42. #94. Thanks for the link. What a prospect of gaiety: Henderson on Windschuttle (or W on H but that might have a bit more hot chili in it). In fact Henderson, as is often the case, makes one wonder when lingering Irish (Catholic more than Orange which seems to be long dead) folk memory will totally disappear, Henderson only being 60ish. At least that might be a starting point for a Henderson-Windschuttle incompatibility. As to Henderson’s condemnation of the White Australia Policy tout court and suggesting it only lasted 50 years, surely he can see a good argument for retrospective thanks for a policy which began, for example with “Made by Chinese Labor” stamps on furniture and the like (evidence of course of the economic motive for the WAP)in the 1880s if not earlier and continued too long by a couple of decades or so. As an Indian-Australian pointed out to me and a Chinese friend agreed the WAP allowed Australia to establish itself as a stable prosperous tolerant well-ordered society with plenty of opportunity for anyone of talent or energy which made it very attractive to immigrants of talent from Asia. My personal observation is that part of the ingredients for such a livable country that one would include in the design is a more or less world’s best practice modernity as the mainstream culture (which, obviously, was European, despite everything, and specifically British, from the 17th century for about 300 years) and lots of small minorities none of which could be large enough to challenge the mainstream. It didn’t save European Jewry that they were only a small minority in Germany, and largely assimilated and even inter-married by 1933. but all sorts of circumstances of religion and history, both recent and ancient, made that a special case – certainly not unrepeatable but happily not something to fear in the English speaking world, partly because of its long history of receiving useful immigrants. The obvious envy factor in the rancorous anti-Semitism of Europe could, as one of my lefty friends opines, be prompted by Chinese clannishness and success as in the Phillipines or Indonesia but, personally, I don’t fear that for a number of reasons, including the fact that Chinse qua Chinese, as against being Hakka or Cantonese or whatever, are not clannish, although outbreaks of Han nationalistic pride can make one think of Wilhelmine Germany. One can’t pretend that an envy factor never operates even in a happily prosperous and relatively egalitarian country like Australia, and one might even consider that the Hanson view of privileged Aborigines (not an untrue view of the few controlling huge unearned mining royalties but hardly apt for the “beneficiaries” of largely wasted welfare billions)was a half baked version. Like the thuggish ignorance of the Nazis Hansonism’s aims were never accurate or the middle class welfare that flourished under Howard would have been targeted much more tightly – very little proportionately goes to battlers, though they were certainly better off in 2007 than 1997.

  43. Jeremiah #92 says “Besides, a man as busy as Windschuttle, without the resources behind him that “Alanna” fantasises about, might have had other reasons for changing his priorities.”

    Oh come now Jeremiah. The IPA, the CIS, Quadrant have all been well resourced enough to produce a veritable snowstorm of divisive media articles that engaged in howls of protests against “enemies within”.

    What interests me is $U.S. dollar denominations of some of their accounts and the very wealthy profiles of some of their most avid supporters.

    Its been U.S. manipulation (and manipulation by wealthy Australians no doubt with global interests and interests in a completely deeregulated econony that will give them access to barely breadline wages) of our political system Jeremiah. Sorry, I dont like it.

    Its an attempt to control government by using an avalanche of extremist propaganda.

    Windschuttle may not have time. He is too busy contributing to the avalanche.

    Its of little use now though. The party recognises that it needs to become more moderate -a little overdue – so I suggest these “extreme view groups” are on the way out.

    Windschuttle’s boat is sinking with him still on board.

  44. Jeremiah# says

    “Practically none of the connotations of the word genocide, let alone its literal meaning, apply to what the colonial authorities sought to do, though many tough minded, not to say callous, realists clearly anticipated the virtual extinction of some Aboriginal peoples with equanimity and even a grim satisfaction. One comparison with the most obvious idea that “genocide” brings to mind is to point out that the mixture of motives for German anti-Semitism, including not least religion and rancorous envy, had no part in the motivation of white frontier settlers and their supporting police.”

    Jeremiah,

    There is no definition that implies Genocide needs the characteristics of being “advance planned” and may only be ascertained in hindsight so to suggest it needs meticulous planning as in Nazism is incorrect.

    The mental element of the crime is defined as follows;
    “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”,

    I draw your attention to the words “in whole or in part”
    There is also a physical element and the crime must contain both parts (under international law)
    (a) Killing members of the group;

    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    I would call what happened to the Tasmanian aboriginies genocide.

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