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Senator Back To The Future!

“Senator Back: In terms of the effects, I did ask the Chief Medical Officer of South Australia in Adelaide the other day whether or not stress or annoyance is an adverse medical condition. He said to me, ‘Senator Back, yes, it is.’ I said, ‘If in turn it leads to sleeplessness, to depression and to an inability to function, is that an adverse medical condition?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is.’ The other day in Melbourne, Dr David Iser gave us evidence of the fact that one of his patients in the room at the time was suffering from a condition. A person writing to me today talks of sleeplessness and severe pain in the ears.”

Senator Chris Back is one of the two Liberal sceptics on Climate Change. Or rather, one of the Liberal sceptics who are actually saying so in public. So it’s strange that he’s so easily convinced by the word of the Chief Medical Officer on the negative effects from a wind farm when he’s so distrustful of climate scientists and so worried that we should take their word without strong examination of their data.

Interestingly, “stress or annoyance” is an “adverse medical condition”, so I’m lookng forward to the appointment of an Abbott Government Commissioner to look at the adverse effects on the Health of Australian citizens.

But as Senator Back tells us, he has a “scientific background” – he trained as vet and was involved in the great technological achievement of using satellities to track fires in remote locations – and this enables to see that the science of climate change is “weak”. As he puts it:

“When is the last time you heard the consensus of the world scientists is that the earth is roughly spherical?

“You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it’s an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence.”

Well, I’d suggest that you do get told that the general consensus of the world scientists agree on the shape of the world when you start arguing that it’s flat. Until then, most people just presume that everyone agrees with the scientific consensus.

Of course, political consensus is another matter. When Labor or The Greens disagree with your policy, it’s quite ok to attack them for just being “negative”.

So, of course, when Senator Back was talking about that “fad of the moment” same sex marriage he didn’t refer to consensus at all:

Is this relevant to us in Australia? I do not know. Canada is a country with which we often likened. We are both, if you like, recipients of the Westminster system of law. We are fairly similar in many ways. The point that she is making very, very strongly is that children do need protection and should be considered in the circumstances. She makes the point that parents can never replace the missing biological parent or parents.

Now, this was after he appealed to some other authority – Dawn Stefanowicz. You appeal to authority when your data is weak… now where have I heard that before? Still, Senator Back is a vet, so this gives him some insight into who’s worth listening to.

I heard some debate go on earlier in this session this afternoon about the child and the rights of the child. I made it my business to actually see if there was anything definitive written. In the few minutes left to me, I want to reference the comments of a Dawn Stefanowicz, who is an internationally recognised speech and author. She is a member of the Testimonial Committee of the International Children’s Rights Institute from Canada. She was presenting on 24 April. It the title of her commentary was ‘A warning from Canada: same-sex marriage erodes fundamental rights’. These not my words; these are her words.

And what was it that gave her words such importance? Such gravitas? Apart from being “an internationally recognised speech”! (One day, I hope to be a speech too. And simply being internationally recognised makes one worth listening to. That’s why Hermione Granger was allowed to address the UN, before it was discovered that she was just an actor and didn’t actually have any magical powers, so world leaders would actually have to try and solve some of the world’s problems themselves.)

Well, Ms Sefanowicz was one of six adult children of gay parents who filed in the US Supreme Court asking for the marriage act to be kept the same. Six – gee that must be every single child of gay parents in the US. Although Dawn was from Canada, so I guess that only leaves a potential five who were actually US citizens.

Why? Because she felt embarrassed by her parents growing up and didn’t feel like going outside. Mm, if being embarrassed by your parents is to be a consideration in this, then it’s a strong argument against heterosexual marriage too. To be fair, she also faced ostracised and threats. Which is I suppose is an argument against letting anyone from a minority group marry.

But I get back to my three main points of confusion.

  1. Gay marriage wasn’t allowed in Canada when Dawn Stefanowicz was born. Changes to the marriage act wouldn’t do anything to change her experience, but they might mean that it was a little less unusual for the future children of gay parents. As Penny Wong told us, the horse has already bolted on this one.
  2. While Chris Back’s veterinary degree qualifies him to judge climate science because it gives him a scientific background, why does he think that appealing to consensus and authority makes your argument weak in respect to climate change, but is quite ok when talking about gay marriage.
  3. Barnaby Joyce. Mm, probably enough said.



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  1. Ian

    I’m growing tired of those arguments against rights that use the adverse experiences of people who have been denied those rights.

    Thus: “we can’t allow same-sex marriage because, um, the children of those marriages will be ostracised.” What is left off this statement is the following: “because society is prejudiced against them in the first place, and it’s the prejudice that’s the problem, not the marriage.”

  2. Kaye Lee

    Senator Back, aside from being a climate change denier, wind turbine phobic, and anti marriage equality, also introduced a bill to criminalise private investigations into animal abuse.

  3. townsvilleblog

    Let’s face it the LNP are just out of touch with reality on all levels.

  4. kizhmet

    I want to be a speech … but if being a liberal is a prerequisite, I will happily remain a non-speech. Is the inability to string words into a coherent sentence (spoken or written) an LNP prerequisite …?

    @Ian – you nailed it, more concisely and eloquently than I could have managed.

    LNP drivel makes my toes curl.

  5. kerri

    On windfarms and windfarm disease?
    My husband is needle phobic. I managed to raise both our kids through the toddler and Primary school injections without a peep. They cried a bit, but were pretty stalwart and proud of themselves when they were.
    Then we planned a trip to Africa. I briefed the kids believing that if they understand why it is necessary they will be better equipped to deal with the discomfort. But then they witnessed first hand their father needing to lie down and even then getting a bit woozy at the thought of the needles. Now whenever we travel, I am the only one who stays vertical for necessary injections!
    Windfarm noise and those headaches, aching ears, dizziness, a learned response!
    Train a cow to pretend the noise makes them lie down and before long you will have fields of horizontal cows lying in the grass under the turbines! Or maybe cows aren’t that stupid???

  6. Rossleigh

    Exactly Ian. Or if you put it like this, “Dawn Stefanowicz – her surname sounds Polish. Perhaps that was the reason she was ‘ostracised and threatened when she was growing up. This is clearly an argument against letting Polish people marry”, then the absurdity of the argument becomes obvious!

  7. John

    I suffer from V8 syndrome.

    I become irritable and often wake from sleep when a noisy, polluting, inefficient, overpowered car drives past my house. I dream of bricks though windscreens and potatoes in exhaust pipes. I dream of compulsory anger mangement and sensitivity training for the drivers.

    The distress and irritability reach a peak when the exhaust note tuned to the resonant frequency of my house tweaks my amygdala. The irritation is not limited to local noise – the racket from V8s and Harleys carry for kilometers. I have learned to associate this liberal dispensation of noise with the worst type of human – the heedless few who prefer dangerous and raucous power to peace and introspection.

    I demand a scientific investigation of the causes and symptoms. Millions of Australia are affected by distress and disturbed sleep that is caused by the corrupting influence of the V8. Thousands of Australians consider it acceptable to tyrannise our quiet streets – moaning and echoing through the suburbs like the roaming wolves of legend.

    This affliction of our citizens must be stopped, we need a Royal Commision into V8 syndrome!

  8. josephinewadlow

    But as Senator Back tells us, he has a “scientific background” – he trained as vet –

    Please forgive this tongue in cheek response:

    Years ago prior to becoming a farmer in that distant land North Wales – Cymru (Wales) was at a Young Farmer’s dance dressed in the most superb dress – with a zip that reach down to my ‘derriere’ – when all at once in the middle of a very active dance routine the zip went – right down to the ‘derriere’ – red of cheek and totally embarrassed clutched the offending dress at the back – but help was at hand – a handsome young man came up and whispered in my ear – ‘do not worry I am a qualified ‘vet’ and believe I can help – right so how many qualified vets can say they are experts in ‘zip mending’?
    Then perhaps it all has to do with having a ‘scientific background’…..and not with the fact that at the time the young vet had lecherous motives…


  9. Lotharsson

    “While Chris Back’s veterinary degree qualifies him to judge climate science because it gives him a scientific background…”

    Let’s make sure we’re clear about this. That degree does not qualify him to judge climate science. He fails on two counts:

    1. As far as I can see he has zero scientific research experience. Research is different to an undergrad degree, and having the latter does not mean you can do the former. If you haven’t done any research, you’re not qualified to judge research. It’s past time to slap down those who make false claims about their research judging abilities on this basis!

    2. He has zero training whatsoever in climate science. Understanding veterinary science at a Bachelors level or even a Ph.D. level gives one no insight into climate science. This kind of appeal to false authority must also be slapped down!

  10. Rafe Falkiner

    Every Day in every way the abbott government destroys a tiny bit more of me. I don’t know how mush more I can take…

  11. Annie B

    “While Chris Back’s veterinary degree qualifies him to judge climate science because it gives him a scientific background…”… …

    Wrong …

    Being cynical ( no offense intended to Lotharssson ) …. if ‘research’ is all that is needed to make some unequivocal statement on what is what, and how it should be – then we all here on AIM should take a bow, and pronounce to all in power that we have the right, the knowledge, the ability to speak advisedly on anything whatsoever – and that it MUST be taken very seriously by the powers that be. …. Cos we all, sure as hell, do a lot of research for posts here. ,,,

    But I doubt that anyone here, ‘judges research’ as such, or insists on a professional claim because he / she has studied some science or other – in a specific area, which is not, or does not, include climate change !!

    But, we DO have opinions – and it is our right. …. So, for a veterinary surgeon to come out and speak about climate change / wind farms, even if he has read a bit about it, is just not on. If it’s his opinion – ok … if it’s ( as shown ) his judgement because he is a vet. surgeon, and that ‘qualifies’ him – then it’s not acceptable ….

    At best it can only be his opinion ( which he is entitled to ), but certainly not a professional edict.

    Um – I think I have just wasted two+ paragraphs on something we all know anyway … ah well !!


    @ John ……. Oh how I know what you mean. … even if you wrote it in somewhat satirical manner ! …. the V8, boom box phenomenon is at best – rotten. … It is an imposition on the community ( largely ) and is a blatent attempt for ‘ look-at-me-and-all-the-power-I-have-to-use ‘ garbage. …

    While I am super angry at this personally, I also feel a bit sorry for the bods that behave this way, with no respect or concern for anyone else, whatsoever. ,,, They have sadly missed out on good education in proper manners and behaviour. … Perhaps I should add – ” so what’s new “.


    @ Rafe ….

    Please do not let it destroy you ‘bit by bit’. …. Because, if you do, you fall right into the hands of the incumbent government who want nothing more than to see a dumbed-down and anxious populace, bereft of their ability to think for themselves … This mob WANT us to bow down, genuflect to them – in every way. …

    It’s called fascism. ………. Please don’t give in to it.


    @ Kerri … Really appreciate your analogies there … And most likely, cows are NOT that stupid. !!


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