ScienceDecember 26, 2016

Summer reissue: Who needs scientists when Mike Hosking is here to school us?


Facts and ‘cloistered’ expertise were well and truly been put in their place by the Seven Sharp host this year. Siouxsie Wiles on a unique brand of smug bullshit

Originally published on June 1, 2016

“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.

The Spinoff’s science content is made possible thanks to the support of The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a national institute devoted to scientific research.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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