June 17, 2015 | Graham

Climate ‘skeptic’ out but eugenicist in at UWA

I’m not sure how this works, but the University of Western Australia decided it couldn’t accept federal government money to host Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre, but it is happy to host a lecture by Peter Singer, a man who advocates infanticide, eugenics and bestiality.

Lomborg’s sin was apparently to question not the official IPCC position on global warming, but whether trying to mitigate global warming was the most pressing issue that the world faces.

This is not only a reasonable position, but the position that almost everyone in the world has taken as we collectively refuse to do anything substantial to halt the use of fossil fuels.

Indeed, fossil fuel use is expected to continue to rise.

Singer is an extreme utilitarian whose views on eliminating weak members of the species have things in common with Adolph Hitler. They are not views that are generally accepted.

I’m not suggesting that Singer shouldn’t be able to give a lecture, abhorrent as I find his views to be. Nor that majorities are the way to determine what may or may not be discussed.

What I am suggesting is that the university has surrendered itself to the fascist tendency of a tiny minority by rejecting Lomborg, and that it is not surprising that that tiny minority, given their tendencies, are untroubled by Singer, and therefore the university is perfectly happy to host him.

Lomborg is motivated by trying to save people’s lives. Singer is happy to destroy them.

One is a civiliser and the other a savage, but it appears that the modern university is on the side of the savage.

I am also troubled that a university would be prepared to devote more resources to a man whose views are anathema to most of us, than to one who is in the mainstream.

Universities are places where the strange and the weird can be investigated and discussed. But universities lose their utility when the strange and the weird is the focus of the investigation and where the mainstream itself is treated as strange and weird.

At that point they have completely lost their way.

Posted by Graham at 7:14 pm | Comments (6) |


  1. Being a mature-age university student I’ll confirm our universities, or parts of them, have lost their way. Areas beyond politics are less affected.

    Comment by jim morris — June 17, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

  2. I don’t think your characterisation of Singer is fair.
    A great deal of his work is essentially reductio ad absurdum. He takes accepted axioms and applies them to situations at the edge of human behaviour and lets them sit like turds on the windowsill to annoy people. That hopefully leads to explorations of the nature of morality: the foundational assumptions that are used to justify social behaviour.

    I think his work is at the cutting edge of moral philosophy and is far more important than the often convoluted derivative analytical efforts of some of our professional ethicists, which it is designed to show up.

    Get past the “yuk” and squeamishness factor that his topics are often chosen to induce (part of the object lesson) and you’ll often find shining diamonds of lucidity. Singer is by any measure a civiliser, but like other great philosophers he often confronts and disturbs, quite deliberately.

    On the other hand, I do tend to agree with you that the Australian Academy has to some extent lost its way.

    Comment by Craig Minns — June 18, 2015 @ 5:57 am

  3. Well if you believe in the concept of free speech, then both men should be free to air their views; and those of us who may or may not accept them, free to reject or refute them! Or conversely, defend them!

    For myself, I prefer to use reason and logic to persuade; rather go the verbal or label folks, as seems the want of some of our posters?

    Mr Singer certainly forces some debate; but I’m not comfortable with his views, which seem to exclude informed consent on the part of the animal; the unborn child or the useless elderly? Or purport to speak for them?

    One of the greatest minds of the century is trapped inside an entirely useless body, namely one Stephan Hawkins!

    And who’s to say there are not more of them in the not yet born, deformed or imperfect?

    Lomborg is worth listening to, is a very persuasive speaker and makes many valid or downright compelling points!

    I mean, if folks everywhere were better off, we may be able to actually do something real about reducing green house gas emission?

    However, if we leave billions in poverty in a mindless drive to produce some of the richest folk in the graveyard, they will have no other choice than to continue to eat everything edible in sight and fell forests for their cooking fires!

    Than say, turn their waste into fuel that would save them! And indeed, add the forest generated reliable rainfall needed to grow their crops/food!

    And if they could afford to replace the conventional stationary combustion engine doing service, with a ceramic fuel cell, and mostly pristine water vapor as the exhaust product, they could change our world.

    And in combination, with an unparalleled 80% energy coefficient, produce the world’s cheapest (24/7) power!

    For mine Lomborg seems to be simply putting the horse before the cart, when it comes to the practicalities of adapting to man made climate change?

    Man made in as much as the sun has been in a waning phase since the mid seventies? (NASA) And therefore, there is no other explanation for some of the observable phenomena?

    It might be a useful idea for the “open minds” of the university, to invite both men and ask them to engage in a, Climate Change public debate, and sure to be worth listening to!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — June 18, 2015 @ 11:11 am

  4. […] Strange priorities at the Uni of WA. Lomborg out, eugenics in. […]

    Pingback by Rafe’s Roundup June 18 | Catallaxy Files — June 18, 2015 @ 6:10 pm

  5. I think my characterisation of Singer is more than fair. He is a slight philosopher who gets star treatment in Australia because we have produced so few significant intellects. People have been drummed out of office for saying things less shocking than Singer, but he survives because the things that he advocates are fashionable with the sort of people who form online lynch mobs.

    Singer neatly encapsulates the problems that happen when you put aside any sort of moral compass. He doesn’t ask what is good, he tries to maximise the return to the collective, without realising that sometimes the cost of doing good is higher than the cost of doing wrong in the short-term. And sometimes even in the long term. But that the good is the only sort of “good” worth purchasing.

    It’s a neat comparison because to a large extent both he and Lomborg are utilitarian in approach, but Lomborg is more moral, which is not hard when you are compared against someone without a moral compass.

    Comment by Graham — June 19, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  6. Well, it’s certainly true that there are those who might take his work at face value as a justification for their own abhorrent behaviours. I don’t think it’s at all true that the same applies to Singer himself or is in any way the intent of his work. His analysis is soundly-based on precepts accepted as axiomatic within mainstream moral/ethical philosophy and by taking them to their logical extremity he points up the point at which they fail to satisfy a human sense of moral fitness. Or, in some cases, as you point out, satisfy it all too well.

    I think your second paragraph is absolutely correct as far as it goes, but it misses the mark because it doesn’t recognise that in acknowledging the unspeakable and showing how it might be “justified” he requires us to consider where the boundaries of our own moral sense might lie. In doing so, we might find that some of the things we do, when examined turn out to be less purely “good” than we would prefer to think.

    The same might just as readily be said about some of the Bible, the Gita or other works of theology.

    I have to say I’m not sufficiently familiar with Lomborg’s work to offer a proper opinion.

    Comment by Craig Minns — June 19, 2015 @ 11:20 am

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