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OPINIONMediaJune 1, 2016

Who needs scientists when Mike Hosking is here to teach us how things are?


Facts and ‘cloistered’ expertise have well and truly been put in their place by the Seven Sharp host and his unique brand of smug bullshit, writes Siouxsie Wiles

“Thank God the scientists aren’t running things!” So concluded Seven Sharp host Mike Hosking’s assessment on Monday night of calls by more than 120 doctors and scientists to postpone or move the 2016 Olympic games because of the Zika virus.

This group of “cloistered” experts in population health, paediatric medicine, bioethics and other disciplines are concerned that the influx of people travelling to Rio is going to accelerate the worldwide spread of the virus, which is linked to birth defects and serious post-viral complications like paralysis and death. But, no, that view is “devoid of any level of reality”, seethed Hosking. “You don’t just move the Olympics, it’s not a dinner party”.

Mike Hosking holds his fingers aloft to indicate that the viewer should imagine his words to be placed between inverted commas

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Hosking that he might be the one living in the cloistered environment, and that we scientists might know a lot more about the reality of the world we live in and the challenges humanity faces.

In reality, we scientists don’t want to run the world. We’re quite happy studying how everything around us works, developing cures and new technologies. But it’s an interesting thought experiment.

I’d like to believe that if scientists and academics were running things, New Zealand would be a better place. We’d have fluoridated water to prevent tooth decay for starters. Our bread would be fortified with folic acid to prevent birth defects. Our rivers would be teeming with fish and clean enough to swim. Our houses wouldn’t be overcrowded and full of mould. We’d be using our nation’s brains to develop environmentally-friendly high tech industries instead of relying on cows. That doesn’t sound so bad to me.

Hosking’s rant was a perfect example of the sports-obsessed culture we live in. The anti-intellectual bullshit he was spouting is nothing new to scientists; we’ve lived with that kind of crap since the day our interest in the world around us became obvious to our peers. That Hosking is given a national platform to be smug about his ignorance is a disgrace.

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