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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Quadrant, biotechnology hoax « Previous | |Next »
January 9, 2009

So Keith Windshuttle and Quadrant have experienced a bit of cultural jamming in the form of hoax about biotechnology by freelance journalist and activist Katherine Wilson, a former editor of Overland.

Her article ---purporting to be by “Sharon Gould”, a Brisbane based New York biotechnologist---claimed that inserting human genes into animal stock and crops to give immunity to human consumers of those products.

Keith Windschuttle is a target because his reputation as a warrior in the history wars was based on scouring footnotes of historians for errors and then accusing their authors of fraudulence and political bias. His tactic was to use empiricism to attack social constructivist view of science. Quadrant's support for biotechnology is surprising given its roots in Catholic and Christian conservatism, which would normally would have opposed the utopian claims of biotechnology.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:26 AM | | Comments (10)


It's been a hectic week in Ozblogistan. Old hatreds certainly die hard.

As far as I can see all this has achieved is to lend culture warriors from both sides the impression that their fetishes and ancient wounds still have some relevance.

For mine the hoax is less interesting than what the extent of the stoush says about blogland.

Who cares about the hoax? Quadrant fell for it. It was well executed. So?

As you point out Lyn, it is the reaction to the hoax that is of interest---its absorbing many bloggers and journalists. Not that they are saying much.

Seems like every blog I looked at had more than one person who knew, was related to, acquainted with, had a stoush in the past, was an associate of, someone else involved in this affair.
Incestuous lot.

Good point Fred. Arguments like these are supposedly about ideologies, but they're really just pissing contests among a small group of higher profile grudge holders. Celebrity mud wrestling.

What is a"windshuttle"?
A ype of eighteenth century loom that is claimed by its vendors to run only on hot air.
So glad to see this most miserable of the old Howard gang of misanthropes caught out, given the contribution he made to the ongoing harms done to so many indigenous people, by his efforts to obscure aboriginal history and mischeivous genuine historians like Prof. Henry Reynolds.
It is only apt that this self abnegating Murdochist mercenary and his ilk are shown up in this, of all ways.
After all,
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour",
as Reynolds and the Aborigines know so, so well...

The current hoax is a mere giggle, unlike true scientific fraud where publications are based on work that wasn't done.

I got caught up in the Prof Michael Briggs health-sciences fraud affair. Before it hit the general press, Briggs' defensive measures messed with my academic career, and pressure on one member of staff who was "outing" him in the early 80s (for "work" done in the 70s) could easily have contributed to her early death.

Of course, we should also consider the effects on innocent members of the public from heath-science fraud.

Apologies for spelling error.
"...mischievous historians like Prof Henry Reynolds should read:
"... mischievous ATTACKS ON historians like Prof.Henry Reynolds.
Wish the "preview "feature would work on my computer (sigh!).

Hal G.P. Colebatch writes in The Australian

To hoax a magazine such as Quadrant, a general-interest magazine with a small staff, which publishes articles, reviews and opinion on a great variety of subjects and which does not claim to submit its articles to learned peer review, hardly seems calculated to win any plaudits for boldness or achievement.

It makes no point except the rather obvious one that small magazines depend to some extent on trust and cannot employ exhaustive fact-checkers. It is simply squalid and nasty in a petty, Smeagol-like way. Hardly a coup to boast about. It is a feat of derring-do on about the level of stealing books from libraries on busy days.
It took the wing out of Windshuttle's sails.

it's a giggle but Quadrant is not laughing--it's Quadrant bashing says Michael Connor by the (so called) humourless left. That does nothing to help lift the quality of public debate. It's the left laughing and the Right is looking rather humourless.

Nan, its pathetic isn't it?
Quadrant is always beaten up as the great exemplar for the Rights superior intellectuality, including methodology, (supposed)rationality, academic principles and attention to detail.
Hal GP Colebatch, another relic of the Rights glory days of decades ago, produces something as despicable as the Paul Sheehan apologetics involving Israel in the SMH, with propositions as ridiculous as the one you mention.
Stupid old farts...