Does Australia have a free press?
In my earlier post on growth and sustainability I argued that our press must give as much attention to scientific information about the state of the world as it now gives to financial information about the state of the market. It is hard to see how that will happen unless we have a free press. That leaves us with a problem.
Freedom of the press is an issue that has been unusually prominent in Australia in recent months – taking ‘the press’ to encompass all public media. But most of the discussion has focused on the wrong questions and has failed to notice that whether Australia has a free press is a question that can be answered empirically; and regrettably the facts demonstrate that, taken as a whole, we do not have a free press. Continue reading Does Australia have a free press?
We need to talk about growth. (And we need to do the sums as well.)
In my opinion, the greatest scandal of philosophy is that, while all around us the world of nature perishes – and not just the world of nature alone – philosophers continue to talk,sometimes cleverly and sometimes not, about the question of whether the world exists. Karl Popper, Two Faces of Common Sense
1. Why should we talk about growth?
Growth is a big issue, and getting bigger all the time, but not one that yet generates serious discussion in the community. Nor has it been the subject of mainstream political critique. That economic growth is good is a view unchallenged by any major political party in Australia, with the exception of the Greens – and more than anything else it is their questioning of growth that has seen the major parties condemn the Greens as a fringe political movement.
No doubt there are deep philosophical – or at least ideological – reasons for this, but the problem might also be explained by our simple failure to understand the mathematics of growth. Continue reading We need to talk about growth. (And we need to do the sums as well.)
When Galileo put forward the idea that the earth is not the centre of the universe he was subject to persecution by the church. His science was ridiculed as an affront to God and rejected as inconsistent with the received wisdom from Aristotle and the Bible.
Bertrand Russell said Galileo ‘began the long fight between science and dogma’, which eventually led to mainstream thinkers and politicians, at least in the liberal democracies, accepting the authority of science to adjudicate what counts as knowledge of the world.
Very recently, however, dogma is fighting back with renewed energy, particularly against the science of global warming. Continue reading Climate change science: will Prime Minister Abbott be guided by Galileo or the Pope?