Presentations cause concern

Hugh Young
Pukerua Bay

Two presentations at the Skeptics’ Conference had some features in common that arouse disquiet. Both had inflammatory titles-“Ethnic fundamentalism” and “Linguistic fascism”-that were not supported by the content.

Both were well outside the realm of “scientific investigation” or “claims of the paranormal”. Both were heavy on assertion and anecdote and light on referenced facts. Both used arguments by analogy that would have been laughed to scorn in more scientific subjects.

Both had a racial/political aspect: both promoted a monocultural Aotearoa of a kind that was fashionable two or three decades ago. Both attacked the trends towards multiculturalism and bilingualism as if (per the titles) they were being imposed from above, rather than grassroots movements being accepted by popular consensus.

I am sorry they were (reportedly) well received, apparently because they were outside the usual fields of study of most skeptics, in much the same way that lay groups eagerly accept pseudoscientific presentations.

The Skeptics have partially overcome the male bias of a few years ago. We are still overwhelmingly white. Presentations like these two will contribute to ensuring that this remains the case.

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