Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Creationism and the Stork Theory of Reproduction

The Guardian today (23/12/08) reports that in an Ipsos/Mori poll* of teachers in England and Wales 29% of science specialists agreed with the statement: "Alongside the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory, creationism should be taught in science lessons."

The newspaper has also published a response to this alarming news from Richard Dawkins:

"The 'Michael Reiss position' is defensible. Just as a chemistry teacher might discuss the phlogiston theory, or a physics teacher might discuss the Ptolemaic theory of the planets as history of science, so it is defensible to teach that there are people called creationists, and they believe what they believe.

But if teaching creationism 'alongside' evolution means what it seems to mean, it is no more defensible than teaching the stork theory alongside the sex theory of the where babies come from.

If 29% of science teachers really think creationism should be taught as a valid alternative to evolution, we have a national disgrace on our hands, calling for urgent remedial action in the education of science teachers. We are failing in our duty to children, if we staff our schools with teachers who are this ignorant – or this stupid."

Perhaps, to be charitable to these teachers, they have not been challenged to think about the issue of creationism, and the unexpected requirement for an instant response has caused them to take refuge in some woolly instinct to appear inclusive. Whether or not creationism presents the same threat to the rational, ethical pursuit of science in this country as appears to be the case in the USA, our science teachers should be challenged to think about it. If only because the discipline may sharpen their understanding of what science is. So Dawkins is right in calling for urgent remedial action.

* poll of 923 primary and secondary teachers conducted between 5 November and 10 December - results statistically weighted by sex, age and teaching phase to the known profile of primary and secondary school teachers in England and Wales.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Sun, Sea and Satan

I have just watched "Sun, Sea and Satan : Haut de la Garenne, Jersey, An Uncensored Cutting Edge Adult Documentary by Award Winning Film Director Bill Maloney".(www.pienmashfilms.com)

Bill appears as the presenter/director, and he makes it clear from the start that he is driven by anger. His reaction to the Haut de la Garenne allegations is emotional and deeply personal. I suspect the film may have only a peripheral role in the cause of justice for the victims, as it does not attempt to provide a body of rigorous evidence. Instead, his approach is based on the belief that `sometimes simple things can betray everything', and this brings some moments of devastating directness.

Nowhere is this clearer than in his repeated visits to a little shrine of ornaments in the garden of a very comfortable looking bungalow. Including both human and animal forms, this display - openly sited beside a busy road - could at a casual glance be taken for a quirky take on the nativity scene. But nothing could be further from the truth: one of the `ornaments' is a larger-than-life statue of a very young child with an enormous phallus in his/her mouth.

This is quite clearly 3-dimensional child pornography and surely illegal. I cannot imagine this happening anywhere in the UK without public disgust and legal action. Yet here in Jersey the owner is happy to flaunt his sickening display in a defiant statement that says, "I am untouchable." Maloney is blunt about what he would like to do to the person responsible, but does not reveal their identity. The house, though, he names as `Charnwood'.

As if this were not shocking enough, the film demonstrates that the house is a mere two minutes' drive from Haut de la Garenne. This little piece of public paedofilia has been on blatant display throughout the investigations at the former children's home, and barely a mile away. Investigating officers and members of the public must have passed it on a daily basis. Truly it beggars belief. It is a terrifying cameo that speaks volumes on how it may have been possible for a culture of abuse to have existed on the island for decades.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Jersey Again - Watch this Space

So why would the Jersey establishment be hell-bent on obstructing investigation into Haut de la Garenne? The recent evidence-free press conference to smear the investigatve efforts of retired cop Lenny Harper has allowed them to trumpet to a naive media, "No murders here!" I suspect this may be a prelude to "nothing very much happened here at all - and anyway it was all a long time ago" . Never mind that 200-odd people have provided statements alleging abuse.

Chief Minister Frank Walker is mainly famous for claiming that those campaigning for justice were "shafting Jersey internationally". This may be taken to imply that Senator Walker is frightened that the investors on which Jersey's tax haven economy depends will be scared off by the association of the island not just with sea and sun but also sex abuse. Who's kidding who? Don't imagne that the mega-rich tax-avoiders who pour money into Jersey give a shit about the health of the island's social services, past or present. Mired in self-interest, these people will invest in any regime that can provide the right financial terms and an opportunity to cover their tracks.

No, at the risk of being labelled a conspiracy theorist, there simply must be some other reason. I have no idea right now what this might be and I was about to add, "Watch this space."

But better still, watch this space. Or if it turns out that the Jersey oligarchs are able to silence legitimate dissent, watch this one.