The Canadian War on Science: So because John Dupuis from York University says so I'm just supposed to believe it?

Think of this as a combination 2014 recap and 2015 resolutions post. Neither of which I really planned to do after doing recaps for the last couple of years. Two years ago, 2013, was very clearly a year I was more obsessed than usual with advocacy around the current Canadian government's treatment of science and information. The year before that, 2012, was a year I was very clearly more obsessed than usual with open access advocacy.

This past year, 2014, was both a relatively light blogging year and a year when my twin obsessions from 2012 and 2013 seemed about tied. So I more or less decided to not bother with a "best of" post and just head into 2015 most likely continuing that twin obsession, probably at similar intensities. After all, we are expecting the Tri-Agency open access policy this year as well as a federal election.

But then I saw this. And I knew I had to post something. But what? Rather than something backwards looking, how about a promise to myself for 2015?

That's the ticket!

So what's the promise, you ask?

But first, let's deal with the bizarre little bit I found. Since my big War on Science Chronology post from May 2013 I've been tracking, alt-metrics-style, the impact that post has had. Hits, quotes, repostings, and the like as well as writing or presenting opportunities that have come my way due to the work I did there. As well, there have been media interviews and a whole bunch of other very cool things that have happened. I took a first stab shortly after the post was published when the impact spiked. I'll be updating that post and talking about what I find at the upcoming Ontario Library Association Super Conference.

And part of those preparations is tracking more recent mentions of the 2013 post, usually by spotting hits in my hit tracking software.

One of the most recent mentions is in the comments on a post on the CBC News site, Conservatives quietly nominate 60 per cent of their 2015 slate of candidates. It's actually quite common for people to mention my post in the comments sections of news sites or discussion forums. Believe it or not.

Anyways, this particular example starts fairly normally, part of a comment thread where people are discussing the various anti-whatever policies of the conservatives.

caring canuck

@inuk of the north wrote - "Fascism is a term fashionably tossed around in some circles. Talk to someone who lived under a fascist government and you'll be embarassed at your terrible lack of knowledge and sensitivity."
Talk about "terrible lack of knowledge and sensitivity." The vast majority of Canadians are becoming all to familiar with the - "Early Warning Signs of Fascism" - as exemplified by the Harper government. Canadian Veterans didn't fight and die to oppose fascism only to have it rear it's ugly head in this country

- Powerful and continuing nationalism
- Disdain for human rights
- Identification of enemies/scapegoats
- Supremacy of the military
- Controlled mass media
- Obsession with national security
- Religion and government are intertwined
- Corporate power is protected
- Labor power is suppressed
- Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
- Obsession with crime and punishment
- Rampant cronyism and corruption
- Fraudulent elections
- Rampant sexism

You know that when even veterans groups are calling for ABC - it's time to get rid of this government. In 2015, support the candidate in your riding that has the best chance of defeating the Conservative.…

Which, as you can imagine, garnered quite a response.


@caring canuck

LOL,what a joke. Just because you post a list it doesn't mean any of it is happening at any extreme levels in Canada. Powerful Nationalism? So what? Disdain for Human Rights? Prove it. There is nothing on your list that applies to Canada's government and you wonder why people refer to these types of posts as insensitive rhetoric to those who have actually suffered under fascism.

Your very ability to post hate filled, ignorant and outright false information freely on a publicly funded message board should show you just how far fetched and foolish your notions are. Try posting something like your list and other comments in a real fascist state and see what happens to you. The fact that you fail to see how free you are to post idiotic babblings while calling the government, and in fact every CPC member, fascists should provide you with enough irony to choke a horse.

And the big guns come out! And that would be my post!

caring canuck


Give us a break. Under your government Canadians like me are on an "enemies list." Your government has gone out of it's way to silence critics - muzzling scientists, attacking environmental groups and charities with punitive audits - even yanking the grants of artists and blackballing them. That is a direct attack on free speech - which is a fundamental "human right" in a democracy.…

Yay for me! Someone makes an assertion, someone else disagrees and offers the fruits of my research labour as, wait for it, evidence to back up their point of view. Normally, when presented with evidence that you disagree with you wouldn't make some sort of ad hominem disparagement of the author of the evidence. You could refute the evidence or produce your own evidence that would lead or a different conclusion or even offer up an alternate explanation or analysis of the data at hand. You could also challenge the validity of the data itself, how it was collected, whether or not what was collected is relevant to the question at hand or even if the kinds of things that were collected should count as any kind of evidence for anything at all.

Yes, that's the way to respond to an evidence-based assertion that we disagree with! Reason! Argument! More evidence! Music to this librarian's ears, surely, to have his hard work engaged with!

Ah, but our man @KevinHamilton sadly doesn't go there. And boy, this is just beautiful if you ask me.

@caring canuck

So because John Dupuis from York University says so I'm just supposed to believe it? You'll have to do better than that.

Yep, that's it. "So because John Dupuis from York University says so I'm just supposed to believe it? You'll have to do better than that."

Of course, I didn't "just say so." I saw something that was going on that interested me and I had a few ideas about what might be happening. So I did some research, gathered some evidence, presented my findings and drew some conclusions.

Frankly, I'm not sure what's "doing better" than presenting some evidence. It's not about me or where I work or what I do for a living, it's about the evidence. (My York STS talk from last fall goes into this in a bit more detail.)

And so, what about my little promise to myself.

Easy. To keep doing the work I'm doing, to continue pissing off he @kevinhamilton's of the world with the evidence, to keep advocating to science and openness. And to use this little exchange in every single presentation I make from now on. Because evidence.

Happy new year.


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Hi John

Great post!, great site. Keep swinging - keep hitting them out of the park. Happy new year right back at you.


"Normally, when presented with evidence that you disagree with you wouldn’t make some sort of ad hominem disparagement of the author of the evidence." That's only true for some values of "you." For others, shouting down (to use a less violent term) the messenger is standard operating procedure. (And what Bill sez.)

By walt crawford (not verified) on 07 Jan 2015 #permalink