A University of Auckland professor has stepped down as acting dean of science after backlash to a letter he co-authored claiming Māori knowledge “is not science”.
Professor of Psychology Douglas Elliffe emailed the science faculty to say his role in writing the letter meant his leadership had the potential to “increase division” among the university’s scientific community.
Elliffe was one of seven professors to sign the letter published in the Listener magazine last week in response to proposed changes to the Māori school curriculum.
Those changes are meant to put mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) on a par with other types of knowledge, particularly Western knowledge.
Ugh, hasn’t this gotten ugly fast.
To be fair to the 7 Professors, they have a technical point.
You can’t have a publicly funded curriculum that undermines the legitimacy of ‘western science’.
1 + 1 always equals 2, that’s not up for negotiation. We already have enough people who think crystals cure cancer, that microchips are in the vaccine and that Covid is being spread by 5G technology.
We can’t undermine the legitimacy of ‘Western Science’, this is a public education curriculum, you can’t set it against itself, the task is to turn out scientifically literate citizens for a high tech economy. Debating the ideas about cultural dominance of western scientific presumptions at Uni is one thing, sowing seeds of illegitimacy in high school students is completely another.
So the 7 Professors have a technical point, but the whole debate becomes immediately moot because this branch of inquiry wasn’t included in the next stage of the curriculum, so the 7 Professors claim a victory despite the other side not turning up.
Where I think they totally jump the shark is their condescending perspective that trashes 1000 years of indigenous knowledge by using an excruciatingly narrow definition of what science actually means.
It’s like burning down the Sistine Chapel because proper art is painted on canvas.
I think the Professors are wrong about that, a people who navigated oceans by the stars, with complex astronomy, with vast natural science knowledge through a deep oral tradition, you can’t just arrogantly write that 1000 years of knowledge off with such snide parameters.
B-U-T we have academic freedom in NZ and as such it’s our academics who have the responsibility and freedom to articulate ideas that can be controversial.
I respect academic freedom enough to disagree vehemently with their conclusion but defend their right to say it.
The most disappointing part of this debate is that it’s made The Listener politically relevant for 30seconds.
Which is awful.
The Listener has all the self importance of a fart in an elevator. I stopped reading after Finlay MacDonald left.
The letters page of The Listener is the perfect place for these academics to duel it out. A white realm of Boomer privilege duking it out in the most low brow news media these ivory tower titans will collectively agree to stoop to.
What would be terrible right now is some type of woke purge to have these Professors expelled from Auckland University or from the Royal Society.
People can academically disagree and even be disagreeable without a lynch mob forming to burn heretics.
We should resist an academic purge because beyond its lynch mob immorality there is already a chunk of voters who fear the Woke will use new Hate Speech laws to settle scores.
Figuratively hanging Professors in the Uni Quad for crimes against dogma isn’t going to settle those nerves.
Finally I find the concept of ‘western’ science to be an eye rolling concept because ‘western’ science has stolen so much science from every one else.
We stole everything the Greeks had and took enormous amounts in science, medicine, math, astronomy and chemistry from the Muslims, so the concept of Western Science when we are discussing the totality of human knowledge seems a critical race theory too far.
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