Anthropology, Australia, History, recent, Science

Why Is a Top Australian University Supporting Indigenous Creationism?

The Australian recently reported that the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is advising its staff to avoid teaching students about the arrival of Australian Indigenous people onto the Australian continent.

As part of the development of materials used to guide teaching, the university has produced a diversity toolkit in regard to culturally diverse students. One of these, entitled Appropriate Terminology, Indigenous Australian People, provides guidelines about how staff should refer to Aboriginal people, their culture and events connected with the arrival of Europeans. For instance, it advises staff not to describe Australia as having been “discovered’ in 1788 (when the first fleet of British ships arrived at Sydney), since this implicitly denies the fact that Australia already was occupied by Aboriginal peoples. Such information already is standard for anyone in Australia who has familiarised themselves with the approved form of navigating discussion of Indigenous issues.

While the vast majority of the advice contained in the document is cultural in its orientation (albeit with a decidedly political flavour at some points), the guidelines occasionally wander into the domain of science. In particular, university staff are explicitly advised to avoid making reference to the fact that “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years” (a figure that corresponds to the latest widely accepted date of the first arrival of humans to Australia from Africa and Asia). Instead, they are advised to date the Aboriginal presence in Australia to “the beginning of the Dreaming/s,” because such language “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

The document warns that “forty thousand years puts a limit on the occupation of Australia, and thus tends to lend support to migration theories and anthropological assumptions. Many Indigenous Australians see this sort of measurement and quantifying as inappropriate.” Such guidelines—approved by the UNSW Dean of Science—are in direct conflict with the scientific consensus about the origins of Aboriginal Australians.

The accumulated evidence has shown that Aboriginal people arrived on the Australian continent somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 to 65,000 years ago, with recent evidence leaning toward the earlier part of this range. Given this bounded uncertainty, it makes sense for university staff not to assert a specific date for Aboriginal arrival. However, what is not the subject of debate amongst experts is the claim that the ancestors of Aboriginal people migrated to Australia as part of a larger human migration out of Africa and across the globe.

A figure from the 2016 article “Human Dispersal Out of Africa: A Lasting Debate,” by Saioa López, Lucy Van Dorp and Garrett Hellenthal,

The suggestion that Indigenous Australians have been on the continent since the “beginning of time,” and that they “came from the land” is not a scientific statement. The document urges that academic staff refer to such theories as “Teachings from the Dreaming/s” or “Dreaming Stories,” and discourages the use of more accurate terms such as “myths” and “legends.” But the idea of Aboriginals existing since the dawn of time and emerging whole from the Australian land mass is the Indigenous equivalent of traditional creationism, whereby our entire evolutionary history is dismissed in favour of the belief that humans and the natural world were created intentionally by one or more supernatural beings.

Why would a university—let alone the Dean of its prestigious science faculty—instruct staff to avoid articulating a scientifically coherent account of the origins of Australia’s Aboriginal people? It’s hard to imagine a university advising its staff, including its biologists and geologists, to refrain from teaching the scientific evidence for the age of life on earth because it may offend Christian young-earth creationists.

The double standard is a familiar one. Indigenous Australians are widely regarded as a marginalized group. And politically progressive academics have long felt compelled to acknowledge their alternative understandings of the world, lest they be accused of “scientific imperialism” or of dismissing “other ways of knowing.”

This is arguably a well-intentioned exercise. But consider the broader implications of a system of thought that includes these theories of Aboriginal creationism. If the ancestors of modern Australian Aboriginal people didn’t migrate, but instead “came from the land” on the Australian continent, then they cannot be said to share a common ancestry with the rest of the world’s human population. They would literally be of a completely different phylogenetic order, since they would have experienced an entirely separate evolutionary history that did not involve primates.

Is this not the very basis of racism—to believe that a particular group is not really human?

One traditional bulwark against racism has been the recognition that we’re all part of the same human lineage. While populations may differ superficially in regard to certain physical and physiological characteristics, we are all ultimately derived from the same origins, and share the same human potential. It’s ironic that the administrators of a university are encouraging their colleagues to embrace a view that serves to draw a thick line between Aboriginal Australians and the rest of humanity.

To be clear: Individual Indigenous people should not be blamed, or ridiculed, for holding unscientific views about their origins. All cultures and religions have creation myths—and billions of people around the world still believe in them. But universities aren’t religious or spiritual institutions. And the scientific supremacy of evolution over creationism is a battle that was won generations ago. The message in Appropriate Terminology, Indigenous Australian People is that the UNSW now regards its core mission—the pursuit of truth—as negotiable if it conflicts with the postures associated with social justice.

There is something condescending about this exercise, for it effectively endorses the prospect of lying to Indigenous people about what science tells us about their origins. It assumes they’re incapable of dealing with that knowledge.

Yet many Australian Aboriginal people are perfectly comfortable with migration-based accounts of their origins, and don’t feel that it compromises their identity as a people. In fact, a recent statement from the Australian Aboriginal community about their right to a formal voice in parliament identifies the country’s Indigenous peoples as having lived on the land for “according to science, more than 60,000 years.”

If staff at the UNSW were asked to adapt their professional methods to the creationist beliefs of Christian students, they would be justly outraged. And rightly so. The same approach should guide the University of New South Wales when it comes to more marginalized peoples. Religious creationism—be it Indigenous, Christian or otherwise—should have no bearing on what is or isn’t communicated at our universities.

 

Andrew Glover is a sociologist. Follow him at @theandrewglover.

Featured image: Stencil art at Carnarvon Gorge, photographed in 1985.

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141 Comments

  1. Morgan Foster says

    “For instance, it advises staff not to describe Australia as having been “discovered’ in 1788 (when the first fleet of British ships arrived at Sydney), since this implicitly denies the fact that Australia already was occupied by Aboriginal peoples.”

    Yesterday, I discovered a charming little French restaurant in a quaint neighborhood on the other side of my city. A neighborhood that I had not previously explored.

    I was not the first person to discover the restaurant, but I did, indeed, discover it.

    By saying that I discovered it, I do not deny the fact that the restaurant was previously occupied by other customers before I got there.

    • E. Olson says

      Morgan Foster sounds like an Anglo name, so isn’t it cultural appropriation to “discover” French restaurants, or perhaps even worse to be exploring (aka colonizing) a French neighborhood? On the other hand, your promotion of this French cuisine might also be seen as a manifestation of white cultural hegemony. I therefore think you need some time in a social justice re-education camp for some serious remedial training.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @E.Olson

        I’ll cop to all of that, and more, but as to the re-education camp, you’ll have to catch me first, comrade!

    • Just Me says

      The difference is between saying “the restaurant was discovered “the day you did, vs saying you discovered it that day, and leaving it at that.

      It should be acceptable, and in fact is more accurate, to say Australia was discovered BY others, i.e. Europeans, and therefore by the rest of the world, on a certain date.

      • Ryan says

        I think this is a good example how being more specific and precise is preferable to censorship.

        I think though, part of the problem is misunderstanding of the discovery doctrine, which is still part of the law in the US. The discovery doctrine gave European Princes rights to the new world, but it is didn’t deny the existence of the indigenous peoples. It did deny them rights.

    • Dzoldzaya says

      Sorry to get semantic, but it would be patently absurd to say ‘Le Brigadier in Marseille was discovered in 2017 after Morgan Foster’s summer holiday’.

      • David of Kirkland says

        Indeed, that you discovered something is fine, but to say it was discovered by you is nonsense unless you literally were the first to note its existence.

        • Morgan Foster says

          @David of Kirkland

          Can’t agree with you at all. Where on earth did you dig up that rule of English usage?

          • Ryan says

            The phrase X was discovered by Y is used in history books to mean the first discovery. Or at least that is how it is interpreted. There is a bit ambiguity. Saying Columbus discovered America could be inferred to mean he was the first human to arrive, but when you add more information, it is clear that is the case.

      • “Sorry to get semantic, but it would be patently absurd to say ‘Le Brigadier in Marseille was discovered in 2017 after Morgan Foster’s summer holiday’.

        It would however be sensible to say: ‘Morgan Foster discovered Le Brigadier in Marseille in 2017’

      • It would not be absurd if Morgan Foster were (for example) a food writer who proceded to make the restaurant known to people who previously were not aware of it.

    • The Hang Nail says

      I just discovered the Theory of Relativity. Where’s my Nobel?

      Using the word”discover” to describe your restaurant habits is fine, but it does not belong in a History book. It is sloppy use of language. Schools have a mission to use more precise language. It’s not all that controversial.

      • dirk says

        Abel Tasman discovered another Island at the south of Australia, until this day, it is called Tasmania. There is no propaganda to change name, because the very last Tasmanian (so called by us, Westerners) died 150 yrs ago. I wonder how many islands, mountains, lakes, seas are still named after a European ” discoverer”, there is still a lot to be renamed by the originals (if survived), and ever so many histories to be rewritten. I also wonder, whose ideas are all these renamings and rewriting? Of the originals themselves? Or some western SJ ghoasts and ghoast writers??

    • Mont D. Law says

      After your discovery, did you start using it as a jail, kill the original owners and start selling boiled beef and veg?

  2. Faithful reader says

    Just so. And also easy to add ‘of course, the Aboriginal peoples had been there for a long time’.

  3. X. Citoyen says

    For so many years I listened to scientists, engineers, and the medical professionals dismiss the progressive invasion of the academy as problem in the humanities. “We scientific types,” they’d say, “will never have this problem because we’re so sciency. So we’re going to ignore all the kerfuffle as more of the unsciency faddishness typical of you people.”

    Well, now you have the problem too. The truth was and is that the humanities were never the source of the problem. The humanities were the progressives’ beachhead, and they have become their staging ground. Unfortunately for you, your negligence means you’ve no allies left anywhere else in the academy, so you might as well practice genuflecting to the Dreaming—if you’re lucky, you’ll keep your precious grant money.

    • Jeremy H says

      Science was always the target. At the core of post-modernism was always the revenge of magical thinking (i.e.realities can be willed into existence) which science nearly defeated in the West. Hence, the fixation on language and the power of words, the traditional tools used by priests/prophets to demoralize and dominate civil institutions.

      Expect various science departments to be sieged by student mobs, humanities profs, and bloated HR departments which will use continuous harassment to wring, at first, seemingly innocuous concessions. It will be the same deal over and over: “we’ll stop harassing you if you sign on to these core principles, accept identity quotas, and take sensitivity training!”. And then they’ll be back the next year with something else.

      Slowly these departments will be infiltrated via things like cross-department councils and committees, where packs of gender studies profs and diversity advisers will “work with” science departments to help them set the correct agenda and research goals. Given that it’s rare to find an elite university administration with any spine these days, I would expect to see a growing trend of capitulation when they realize, as you correctly point out, they have no allies left in academia.

      Though in fairness to science researchers, with such massive demands on their time and effort, they were never well-positioned to fight in culture wars; whereas, that’s all the humanities apparently exist for these days. It was asymmetrical warfare from the start: it’s the greater institution of academia and society that has dropped the ball here imo.

      • X. Citoyen says

        Science was always the target.

        No, the administration, the committees, and the granting agencies were always the targets. Scientists are easy to bully: Threaten their grant money, and they’ll bend over.

        At the core of post-modernism was always the revenge of magical thinking (i.e.realities can be willed into existence) which science nearly defeated in the West.

        That fairy tale has all the scientific rigor of Dreamtime. You’re evidence that it’s the kind of magical thinking people use to give their lives meaning. So get your head on right: This isn’t about the March of Scientific Progress against Superstition, with the former eventually winning out in the end; it’s everyone against a totalitarian political ideology whose disciples are trying to take over the academy. There’s no happy ending without unpleasant action.

        Though in fairness to science researchers, with such massive demands on their time…

        I suppose you actually believe this bullshit—“We just don’t have time! We’re not cut out for this, don’t you see?” No, they just don’t want to be the ones to stick their necks out. “Better to let someone else take the heat while I cash in.”

        Your choices are stand up now or get on your knees later. If past behaviour is any indication of future behaviour, most scientists will choose the knees option.

        • Jeremy H says

          @X. Citoyen

          Sorry, I presumed there was a bit more depth to your position than rancor at the scientific community for failing to engage the SJW phenomenon head on. You offer a regurgitation of what everyone already essentially knows but nothing about why this phenomenon is happening in the first place. My apologies for attempting to fill that blank with a hypothesis you clearly reject (I presume you have preferred one of your own that you just decided not to share).

          “No, the administration, the committees, and the granting agencies were always the targets. Scientists are easy to bully: Threaten their grant money, and they’ll bend over.”

          Yes, the target being “science” via the harassment of scientists using the “staging ground” of the humanities and administration, we’re literally agreeing here.

          “…it’s everyone against a totalitarian political ideology whose disciples are trying to take over the academy.”

          Again you tell us what we already know but offer no explanation for why this is happening. What is the goal of this political ideology? What’s the point of taking over the academy?

          At the heart, this is a war over who gets to establish “truths” in our society. As I stated, post-modernism, from the beginning, has been aiming for science all along as science has been increasingly the arbiter of truth in Western society since the Enlightenment. This is in contradistinction to all previous societies in which the very role of the priest, wiseman, magi, etc., was to establish and maintain the existential truths that underpinned a people’s conception of reality.

          • X. Citoyen says

            I presumed there was a bit more depth to your position

            Oh, but Jeremy there was. The literal point was about the historical accuracy of your claim. The bigger point was in the subtext of my making it. The wherefores and whys of progressives don’t matter—my fine and comprehensive account of their rise to power doesn’t matter. What matters is defending the integrity of your discipline and how you do it. I was too subtle before so let me take a different tack.

            The liberals lost the war in the humanities because of the liberal conceit that everyone is a liberal underneath it all, so no matter what they say, they’ll come around to the liberal way of thinking sooner or later. This kind of thinking is called mirror-imaging, which means assuming that others share your motives and aims. But progressives didn’t and don’t share liberal motives and aims. So when the liberals let them in, they organized and advanced their own while the liberals kept pretending that it wasn’t happening or that it would all blow over soon enough—history also bends toward liberalism, after all.

            You have a different conceit, but it’s no less fatal to the cause. Like all people with expertise, you and your fellow scientists will fall into the intellectual’s conceit, which means imagining that your knowledge in one domain somehow translates into every other. You’ll forget, for example, that your knowledge about history, social issues, justice, race, the purpose of universities, etc., is really just a mishmash of half-digested opinion, most of which probably date to your teenage years.

            So there’s some truth in the claim that you’re not equipped for the culture wars. Try to fight on their terrain and you will lose because you’ll say something they’ll hang you with. But you don’t have to win the war; you just have to win the battle for your discipline. And you cannot lose to them on your ground; you can only lose when you venture onto theirs. They’ll hang you with your own innocence.

            Now we come back to the overly subtle lesson in my reply to you. History, along with what’s just and fair, and how we solve this and that social problem is not your terrain. When they come to you with some scheme that will undermine the discipline and the teaching of it, you reject it on those grounds and those alone. You do not get drawn into what’s right and fair and just. As hard as it is to say it, you say you’re not an expert in such things, you’re only an expert in science. And get your brethren to join you in this strategy and on these grounds.

            I know all this is abstract, but it must be. The proposals and schemes are too many and too various to enumerate. You have to suss out the general lesson and apply it yourself.

          • Jeremy H says

            @X. Citoyen

            “You have a different conceit, but it’s no less fatal to the cause. Like all people with expertise, you and your fellow scientists will fall into the intellectual’s conceit,…”

            “Like all people with expertise, you and your fellow scientists will fall into the intellectual’s conceit,…”

            “History, along with what’s just and fair, and how we solve this and that social problem is not your terrain.”

            “As hard as it is to say it, you say you’re not an expert in such things, you’re only an expert in science.”

            “You have to suss out the general lesson and apply it yourself.”

            This has to be the most astonishingly arrogant (and pointless) load of bilge I’ve ever had directed at me. I’m an audio engineer, you fool, not a scientist in any capacity. Never even been in a lab in fact. The borderline delusional nature of your presumption here makes me think you’re a bit touched, so I’ll let it go.

            Suffice to say I’ve read a bit of history beyond the “mish-mash” you grant me (it was actually my major) but I’ll spare you any of my further musings on the “wherefores and whys” of progressives if you agree to spare me your “fine and comprehensive account of their rise to power”.

            I know all this is a bit blunt, but there’s not much to suss out here: you’re a dick. Good day.

        • dirk says

          The option of scientific consensus (see article).I wonder how Einstein would have reacted to this concept. I think it is a contradictio in termis.

          • dirk says

            -terminis- of course (it is so hot now in the NLs, 41 Co, never before so hot, that my head is not functioning well no longer, and it’s -ghost- in a former comment!

    • David George says

      The scientific “community” do themselves no favours by enabling serious departures from observable reality. The invention of dark matter is one thing, and still mostly regarded as a theory or hypothesis. The promotion of the idea (and the concoction of supporting theories some contrary to the first law of thermodynamics) that increasing CO2 causes global warming when the ice core records clearly show CO2 following temperature is on another level all together. Where to from here for science when it’s realised the climate change king has no clothes.

      • @David George

        I don’t like the term dark matter but it is just an unfortunate term which conflates an observation with a hypothesis to explain teh observation which is still being debated.

        The rate of rotation of stars within galaxies is anomolous that is an observation. This is called dark matter. A possible explanation is the existance of dark matter with rather strange properties this an hypothesis which is the subject of lots of work to confirm or deny its existance. The creation of theories to explain observation swhich ar ethen teste di steh essence of science.

        You are really claiming that theories of global warming contravene conservation of energy?
        I call complete b*****ks. Criticism of global warning does not necessarily make you a crank, claiming it violates conservation of energy does make you a crank.

        • David George says

          Yes AJ, the reaction of CO2 to infrared radiation (in the wavelengths outgoing from the earth) is limited to a narrow band (14.5 to 15.5 microns) and not dependant on concentration. There is sufficient CO2 at quite low concentrations for it to easily account for all outgoing radiation in its effective wavelength; 200 ppm will have much the same effect as 800 ppm.
          Once this warming occurs (at the speed of light) the energy is passed on to adjacent molecules (conduction) or re-radiated as electromagnetic waves – infrared at these temperatures – always flowing from warm to cold.
          Beyond the initial reaction additional warming is not possible but to make scientific reality fit the theory (AGW) required an increase in energy from somewhere so they just made it up. The idea that the CO2 molecule can simultaneously lose and retain it’s energy is contrary to the first law of thermodynamics.

      • @David George: “… serious departures from observable reality. The invention of dark matter is one thing …”

        There are lots of observations that point to dark matter. Indeed, dark matter was postulated precisely to account for observations. That’s exactly how science should and does work.

        • David George says

          That is my understanding as well Coel. My point is that it is universally regarded as a theory unlike the “science is settled” nonsense regarding AGW; a serious threat to the credibility of science generally I believe.

    • Michael Johnston says

      “Unfortunately for you, your negligence means you’ve no allies left anywhere else in the academy…”

      Spot on Citoyen.

      The scientists of the academy have, by-and-large been happy to keep their heads down and pursue their research while the institution that supports them has been overrun by SJW administrators. Now it’s probably too late to save the university, even for the sciences. This is a tragedy that we academics have allowed to happen, whether it be through active complicity or cowardly and apathetic negligence.

  4. Klaus C. says

    I assume these are general guidelines and are not intended to be followed to the letter regardless of context. UNSW doesn’t actually offer any anthropology or archaeology courses.

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      @Klaus C.

      The first link that Glover provided, to The Australian, is behind a paywall.

      The second link [here’s a non-archived page: https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/indigenous-terminology%5D suggests that the UNSW guidelines are for prospective teachers of primary school students–that is, students between the ages of 6 and 12 [if primary education means the same in Australia as it does in the US].

      I doubt that the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of human origins–based on fossil and DNA data–is being taught to students that young.

      If someone has evidence that these guidelines are being urged on science faculty at colleges and universities in Australia–by the UNSW Dean of Science or anyone else–please reply to this comment with links or other sources.

      • X. Citoyen says

        Your link is dead too, Jack, so I guess you’re also in need of evidence!

      • Klaus C. says

        Jack, the guidelines are for university staff, but have been adapted from materials intended for primary education:

        The information on this page was adapted from “Using the right words: appropriate terminology for Indigenous Australian studies”, in Teaching the Teachers: Indigenous Australian Studies for Primary Pre-Service Teacher Education, School of Teacher Education, University of New South Wales, 1996.

        https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/indigenous-terminology

        As I suggested, these guidelines can be assumed to be context-dependent. Looking at UNSW’s science activities, there is a part of their PANGEA research program that is relevant to Australian indigenous origins (Human Origins, Environments and Impacts), and they ignore those guidelines even in the heading of one of their research sections:

        Prehistory and Palaeoenvironment of Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific

        (the guidelines suggest avoiding the term “prehistory” when discussing early indigenous people).

        So clearly those guidelines aren’t getting in the way of any science, but Murdoch’s The Australian and its fans will leap on anything like this as another case of “political correctness gone mad”.

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @Klaus C.

          Thanks for fixing my link and for providing some additional background. I didn’t know that The Australian is part of Murdoch’s media empire. To borrow a word from a recent Quillette headline, their article on the UNSW guidelines might be ‘overcooked.’

      • Bernard Lane says

        The UNSW general guidelines on “indigenous terminology” have been cited & linked to by a new set of “classroom inclusivity guidelines” specifically for the UNSW science faculty, following work by an “equity, diversity & inclusivity” committee including the dean of science.

        • Klaus C. says

          UNSW doesn’t offer anthropology courses but the field is covered in their Palaeoanthropology Research Laboratory (PEARL) part of their PANGEA research centre:

          http://www.pangea.unsw.edu.au/research/palaeoanthropology-research-laboratory-pearl-0

          …under Associate Professor Darren Curnoe, who like most workers in this field subscribes to out-of-Africa origins for modern humans.

          On their website and associated links I can see no evidence that the science has been compromised in any way by “indigenous terminology” guidelines.

          • Peter from Oz says

            It would seem, Klaus C. that the guidelines are not there to provide any guuidance.
            Why promulgate them at all, then? It doesn’t really matter if they are used or not. The point is that some academic is prepared to declare publicly that faith is to be preferred over science to spare the feelings of the aborigines.

      • ga gamba says

        I doubt that the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of human origins–based on fossil and DNA data–is being taught to students that young.

        Year 6 is age 11 generally, yeah? Prepare to have your doubts removed.

        These are all lesson plans created by/for primary school teachers.

        www(dot)teacherspayteachers(dot)com/Browse/Search:lucy%20hominid/Grade-Level/First,Second,Third,Fourth,Fifth,Sixth

        www(dot)teacherspayteachers(dot)com/Browse/Grade-Level/First,Second,Third,Fourth,Fifth,Sixth/Search:out%20of%20africa

        ancienthistory(dot)mrdonn(dot)org/EarlyMan.html

        study(dot)com/academy/lesson/lucy-the-first-human-lesson-for-kids.html

        prez(dot)com/keresqx41noq/early-manhominids-6th-grade-tci/

        wsfcs(dot)learning(dot)powerschool.com/ctuck/socialstudieselementary/cms_page/view/20674959

        clarendonlearning(dot)org/lesson-plans/early-humans/

        learning(dot)blogs(dot)nytimes(dot)com/2002/08/07/the-dawn-of-humanity/

        Jack, have you ever considered using a search engine to check yourself? You’ll be astounded what you may find. Give it a crack.

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @ga gamba

          ‘……Prepare to have your doubts removed……’

          You ignored my caveat about DNA data; that omission on your part blows your refutation out of the water.

          I looked at five of the lesson plans you linked to and they don’t cover things like DNA sequencing, fossil and artifact dating, etc.

          Look, my point, which you seemed to have missed, is that truly understanding a topic like the ‘Out of Africa’ theory requires a synthesis of evolution, molecular biology, geology and anthropology. Students in grades 1-12 just don’t have the necessary tools and skills yet.

  5. Weasels Ripped My Flesh says

    Ignorance is bliss. We’ve always been at war with East Asia.

  6. Ray Andrews says

    “But universities aren’t religious or spiritual institutions.”

    Are they not? It seems to me they are temples of wokeness. We have reentered the Dream Time.

    • Ray Andrews says

      BTW it’s the same with Canadian Indians: they now ‘come from nowhere’. They did not migrate, they are a unique production directly from the soil of North America thus in an entirely different category from ‘settlers’. This gives them an eternal ownership of the continent that can never change or even be shared. Welcome to the caste system.

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Ray

        Believe it or not, I watched a programme not so long ago on the BBC, with Alice Roberts presenting, which detailed a Chinese theory that differs from the conventional viewpoint:

        ‘Roberts then explores an alternative to the Out of Africa theory, the multiregional hypothesis that has gained support in some scientific communities in China. According to this theory, the Chinese are descended from a human species called Homo erectus rather than from the Homo sapiens from which the rest of humanity evolved. Roberts visits the Zhoukoudian caves, in which Peking Man, the supposed Homo erectus ancestor of the Chinese, was discovered.’

        Just goes to show that it’s not only ‘wokeness’ as an ideology, that’s encroaching on the scientific method.

        • TarsTarkas says

          What is amusing and sad is that THIS IS THE SAME THEORY THAT THE WHITE SUPREMACIST EUGENICISTS were pushing back in the early part of the 20th century. Which serendipitously led to the discovery of Protoceratops and the other fauna of the Gobi by Roy Chapman Andrews, who trumpeted it to disguise the utter lack of proof that homo sapiens originated in central Asia, not Africa.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Geary Johansen

          I thought that Homo Erectus theory had been more or less quashed, no? Still kicking?

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ Jack and Ray

            🙂 It’s why I put the comment up. Wanted to know whether there was significant scientific support for the theory. Alternative speculative theories are like Gold for writers. For example, did you know that the only scientifically proven ‘psychic’ phenomena, is the ‘gaze’ mechanism built into predator/prey relationships- in which hunters slightly offset their line of sight, in order to avoid alerting their prey. Some have speculated that something might be going on at the quantum level- we certainly now know that the reason why some substances smell similar/identical is because our olfactory receptors sense similar lengths and combinations of molecular bonds.

      • GSW says

        “Canadian Indians: they now ‘come from nowhere’. They did not migrate…” @RA

        I’ve never heard this claim – would you please provide a source?

        • Ray Andrews says

          @GSW

          Saw it on TV and I can’t remember the show, tho probably ‘The Nature of Things’.

          • Ray Andrews says

            … the show was about the theory that whitey migrated to NA long before the Siberians did. Seems there’s some artifacts on the east coast that are strongly suspect of belonging to a particular stone-age European culture … solonians, suruvians, can’t remember exactly. Anyway that would mean that whitey owns all of NA and that it’s the Siberians who are the ‘settlers’ and of course that will not be permitted. The Indians double down by saying that not only are they not settlers, they were ‘always here’. There entire victimhood is at stake.

          • GSW says

            “The Indians double down by saying that not only are they not settlers, they were ‘always here’.” @RA

            Perhaps. A single flake does not a snowstorm make. “The Indians” and “whitey;” “a TV show you “can’t remember” – this doesn’t reflect well on you at all, to be frank.

      • NashTiger says

        The crazed Leftist whackjobs that were with the fake Vietnam Vet pounding drums in the face of the Covington Kids were spouting the same stuff. Nick Sandmann broke from his steady smile in a desperate attempt to get one of his classmate to stop arguing with one of them using Science and whatnot.

    • TarsTarkas says

      More like the lunatic times. Where anyone who even self-identifies as belong to a marginalized group can say and do anything and you dasn’t say or word or lift a fingure cos BIGOTRY!

      We can’t just let them get in a food fight with each other because their aim is so terrible and the weapons they throw at each other can be quite lethal to one’s life, livelihood, and prospect of happiness.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Universities were created by religions. To pretend that their origin story is scientific or rational or purely academic is nonsense.

      • X. Citoyen says

        Universities were created by religions. To pretend that their origin story is scientific or rational or purely academic is nonsense.

        Which is about as moot as a point can get.

      • GSW says

        By “religions” – no, by Christians as an outgrowth of monastic or cathedral schools.

      • NashTiger says

        They were founded by Christians thru Christian churches for the study of science and rationality, you simpleton

    • Eddie Marcia says

      “But universities aren’t religious or spiritual institutions.”

      Every single great university in the Western world was founded as an explicitly Christian institution. Most people here will find this hard to swallow, but without Christianity science would never of emerged as it did in the West.

      • @Eddie Marcia
        “Most people here will find this hard to swallow, but without Christianity science would never of emerged as it did in the West.
        This is a profoundly empty statement. Without Christianity the history of the west would be completely different as part of this it is mor eor less certain thathe emergence of science would likely be very different but in ways that are fundamentally unkown and unkowable, so what?
        You could equally as well say without the worship of Roman gods in the Roman empire science would never have emerged as it did in the west. I would argue that science emerged despite religon and especially christianity not because of it.

        • NashTiger says

          @AJ
          Terrible analogy and false equivalence.

          As stated, all the great Universities in the West were founded as religious institutions – for the pursuit of all knowledge

          The Roman Empire was not founded by and for the pursuit of the Roman religion (which was the Greek religion renamed)

          • @NashTiger

            Let me simplify my argument.

            Christianity has been a major factor in the history of the west. If you change any major factor in the history of the west more or less everything in history will change in major but unknowable ways including the development of science. Saying that science would not have developed as it did without christianity is therefore an empty statement devoid of any real significance.
            Universities started of as instituitions that trained clerics but the comment was on the development of science not universities. Christianity was not patiularily helpful or supportive in the development of science. Arguably the leading edge of science and mathematics in the middle ages was in the muslim world so christianity was clearly not a key factor.

      • NashTiger says

        @Eddie Marcia

        Most of the first Public Universities founded in the US by legislatures were headed by and staffed primarily by Clergy – University of Virginia and University of Vermont being early examples. Here is UNC
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UNC-6-1819.pdf

        Not only that, many of the State Universities in the US were founded by religious orders as well.
        University of Florida founded as East Florida Seminary
        Florida State University founded as West Florida Seminary
        Auburn University founded as East Alabama Male College (Methodist)

        • NashTiger says

          @AJ
          “Christianity was not patiularily helpful or supportive in the development of science.”

          ….other than by founding all the universities and hospitals where Science was advanced…

          Great argument you have there. Compelling and rich.

          Who invented the study of genetics? Where did he do that from?
          And Coepernicus also lived and studied in a Bishopry.

  7. MrJD says

    If only there were some way of relating theories to audiences, supplying them with arguments and evidence for and against their truthfulness, without endorsing any of them.

  8. To answer your question, they are supporting an indigenous tribe’s creation myth because they themselves subscribe to the Intersectionality Myth. Under intersectionality dogma, people are divided into categories that intellectual or upper class white people decide for them. in this way, upper class whites still maintain cultural and political power and control over other peoples and nations, but get to tell themselves their cause is just and they are righteous.

    Under intersectionality, the main thing that counts is your position in the hierarchy. This is ostensibly based on how much White European culture has “oppressed” you, but since that is without data or stats or even reason (why only White European? Why not, say, chinese, from a very powerful and old civilization, or Turkey, for the same reason?), it is fairly meaningless and your ‘oppression’ points are very subjective depending on what a handful of intellectual wealthy white people decide.

    Bear in mind that none of these intellectuals believe the rules apply to them.They firmly believe that it’s the ‘other” white people who are the Oppressors. Them themselves are Woke (ie born again) and their sins are Washed Away – as long as they say the communion (that they are sinful racists) and rake their skin. But they fully expect to have all the power after the ‘revolution.’ Basically, they see themselves on top, and beneath them are all the Brown and Black people they’ve rescued – as long as they are Good little Brown people and do and say as their masters instruct – and at the bottom are working and middle class whites, gay, female, and straight male in that order.

    Note that grouping people into “brown” and “black” categories effectively eliminates nationhood, so that a person from, say, Guatemala is linked with a person from India and a person from Thailand. They’re all ‘Brown” in Wokeland. I think this is also because upper class European and American whites are doing the categorization and ‘they all look the same’ to them. But it also presumes a global ‘community’ in which white Europeans/America keep their power, the world is their playground – the locals add charming color but no more – and they define who is on the victim hierarchy and where. If you object – as a Jew from Asia and Africa I have never felt White – you are sternly told you are mistaken and you are really ‘white’ and ‘privileged,’ as I’ve been informed several times now. Unless your cause can help the intersectional cause – to gain power and narrative dominance and to mold the entire world to their vision – you are sternly told to go into the category they instruct. Black skin has to speak with a Black voice, as they recently put it. The collective is the most important thing–committing blasphemy by going against the categories will make you utterly lose your collectivist position, and worse. Thus, Hispanics are White when they are police officers or George Zimmerman or, recently the cuban guy who Erica Thomas called “white” when she lied about what he said, or even Asians are White, eg the beauty pageant finalist from Michigan who wore a MAGA hat. She turned into a White Nationalist and lost her race and all the woke cards. Back to the bottom of the hierarchy she went; only a very public Twitter self flagellation would have permitted her to gain a few rungs.

    So back to the question–Indigenous Black people with a maladapted culture in a place White Europeans settled only a few centuries ago, are a perfect poster child for Woke Intersectionality They are practically the top of the pyramid.

    Because they are about the highest, they can Do No Wrong. They are morally pure and their souls are clean. Woke white people have to tiptoe around their sacredness and dare not disagree with anything they say. If they do, they lose their spot and go immediately to the base of the pyramid, or more likely, cast out of it altogether. But on the other hand, if they vocally support them – they’re the ‘allies’ as they call it – then they can hitch a ride up to the top of the Woke Pyramid along with the little brown people they so love. They use them, in other words, to improve their own status and power, via their goodness and their woke points.

    As far as how unscientific it is–that’s not the point. The Woke Intersectionals hold that philosophy as primal. It’s like asking catholics of the 1500 to en masse hold their university to science even when the results contradict the edits of the church. They didn’t. A few may have, but the penalty of going against the hierarchical dogma was excommunication, and still is.

    • Out of Nowhere says

      @d: A very thoughtful and fitting comment.

    • Simon says

      @d : Israelites occupy an odd position in your pyramid scheme.

      Unlike White people and Western culture, they still enjoy a – shrinking – sympathetic capital. But unlike other minorities, this usufruct is not unconditionnal.

      Israelites are a protected minority as long as they are unfaithful to their legacy. When they claim their particularity, they are blamed for doing so. In one hand, Jews are validations of the virtue of liberal democracy on the condition that they are non-observant or play of the role of “the ones that were given asylum and citizenship to”. On the other hand, when Jews claim a narrative of their own, independent from that of the West, they are held in disrepute. In the eyes of the self-righteous West, an Israelite has no other choice than matching the archetype of the Hebrew and its declinations – the wandering Jew, the Marrano, the immigrant, the survivor. But when Israelites become Jews attached to a land, a ligneage and customs, they are repelled from the temple of wokeness.

      It’s quite the opposite for other minorities who, when they assimialte, are deemed as disloyal to their creed, while they are considered sympathetically when they isolate,

    • Serenity says

      d,

      I agree with your description of current inspirations of white woke intellectuals. They started this movement, but only the most cruel and unscrupulous would control it eventually.

      I think, the purpose of intersectionality – to form a coalition of ‘oppressed’, to broaden frictions in society, to boost constituency and, ultimately, to bring down Western Democracies. If they succeed – the top of the hierarchy of dominance will be occupied by the most ruthless and manipulative whatever the race, gender, etc.

      • Cynic says

        “I agree with your description of current inspirations of white woke intellectuals.”

        I have to laugh. The overwhelming majority of, and most vocal instances of, “white woke intellectuals” are Jews. See Ezra Klein as but one example.

        • An Assumed Name says

          Klein is an odious snit, intelligent yet unaware or perhaps without care of his fate after his is no longer useful.

      • Citizen XY says

        d: “.. people are divided into categories that intellectual or upper class white people decide for them ..”

        Serenity: “.. white woke intellectuals. They started this movement ..”

        Please, stop it. You can’t blame all this on white people. Yes, there are lots of ridiculous white ‘allies’ and academics involved and one might argue some white ‘philosophers’ provided a deeper underlying philosophical base from which it could arise, but intersectionality is largely credited to Kimberlie Crenshaw, a black American woman and ‘critical race scholar’.
        If you’re paying attention, you’ll find there is no shortage of black and brown people, many within academia, both promulgating this intellectual sludge and providing the ‘thinking’ behind it.

        (Putting every third word in quotes is tedious, but taking these people seriously, as being in accordance with their claimed labels and titles, is difficult.)

        • Serenity says

          Citizen XY,

          As far as I understand, the propagation of progressive liberalism started on university and college campuses in the 1960s and ‘70s with introduction of courses such as Liberal Studies, Liberal Art, Liberal Science when ageing hippies brought their struggle against greedy capitalism, racism and government imperialism into academia.

          Once again, I might be wrong, but I think in those days academics were predominantly white. Nowadays intersectionality is just a logical culmination of this thoroughly cultivated insanity.

          Anyway I don’t think the race of the ‘founding fathers’ is important.

  9. Simon says

    Another case of conservatism by proxy. Western, liberal scholars grant their cherished minorities what they refuse to their own people. All coloured people in the world must be protected in their beliefs, though chauvinistic or superstitious they might be. Allah granted Muslims a glorious fate of global subjugation ? Make it so. Aborigenes were given hallucinogeic brews by animal spirits ? So it goes. But as soon as a European claims his right to historical continuity, he’s cast out of the way of the world. This double standard on cultural diversity is tiresome.

    What is more, I find these treatments very disrespectful to these populations. Why put them under a glass case ? These guidilines rely on the assumption that these societies are bound to remain static and anhistoric. They treat them like statuettes in a curiosity cabinet. Are these cultures so weak that they can only survive in insularity ? The Greeks were able to see their gods as the embodiement of natural, physical forces as soon as 600 BC. The West was able to find plethora of interpretations for the sole three first words of the Hebrew Bible. Aren’t these minorities also able to take the path of demythologisation ? Aren’t they clever enough to succeed where the West failed, in conciliating demythologisation and the perpeuation of a perennial tradition ? Aren’t they creative and imaginative enough to find new purposes to old narratives ?

    Progressive cultural differentialism is perpetuating one of the latest Western myth, namely that of the noble savage figure. But this time, it is not prescientific, etio-anthropogonic fiction aimed at helping the West to reflect on and understand its own political condition. It is a serious policy which consists in building mental reserves for wild-humans.

    At least it is more spacious than human zoos.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Yes, SImon. Conservatism by Proxy is something I have been going on about for years. It’s good to see someone else mentioning it.
      You see it so often in society now. My favourite example is of the daffy middle class women who in ealrier years would have been the backbone of many a church congregation. Now they are often hippyish hoydens who are into ”alternative” medicine and all that bollocks. They come back from trips to Thailand or Cambodia and wax lyrical about how spiritual the monks were in the monasteries and temples. Yet they have never set foot inside a Church and have a huge prejudice against Chritianity.
      I find that in many people this conservatism by proxy is allied with oikophobia, a real distatse for their own cultural traditions.

      • Simon says

        @Peter from Oz : Hi Pete, I think I stole the phrase from you in a discussion we had on “The Attractions of the Clan—An Interview with Mark Weiner” 🙂

        Oikophobia is nice. How can we phrase “an irrational impulse to fantasize and assimilate to foreign cultures, while being reluctant if not hostile to understand one’s own” ? “Xenomania” ?

        Xenomania in the 19th and 20th centuries was an affirmative act rooted in a strong will-to-know and a willingness to experiment. Xenomania in the 21th century is a reactive exotism rooted in the incapacity of sustaining the demands of European culture. What is more, and I take this idea from Gilles Deleuze, in his book What is philosophy (where he also acknowledges the existence of what he calls “nationalitary characters” in art and philosophy), Europeans are now driven by the “shame of being together”.

        Your portrait of the New Age bigot is quite accurate. She is as ignorant of Western culture than she is of Eastern ones. But she’s been told to discard the former and revere the latter. And so she does : it gives her thrills.

  10. Fran says

    In 1992, I looked for a book on the Australian Aboriginals in Sidney Uni bookstore and library. No information on them was available. Finally found a tome in the Museum. I can see why it was hidden away and priced at $70. In addition to the cute Songline stories, serious study of Aboriginals reveal a culture that has a side to it that is better forgotten if you need to glorify it.

    Recent paleogenetics indicates indigenous Papuans and Australians are indeed different from the rest of the world in that they have significant Denisovan DNA; Europeans and Asians only have Neanderthal DNA mixed in – see David Reich on youtube.

    • BrainFireBob says

      Denisovan DNA is also present in Asian populations.

      Neanderthal DNA is most significant in northern European populations.

      Only sub-Saharan Africans (barring European colonial descendents) are pure homo sapien sapien from a genetics standpoint. There was also a human bottleneck; genetic diversity through all of Europe and Asia is less than that of a single African village; this means all Europeans and Asians represent a subset of the African population.

      These things aren’t trumpeted, I’m pretty sure because either one could be used as a basis to argue the intellectual and/or physical performance of ethnic subgroups has a historical, biological basis. Consider many of E. Olsen’s posts, and how many counter arguments boil down to “how could that happen?” Well, here are two explanations.

      • ianl says

        ” … There was also a human bottleneck; genetic diversity through all of Europe and Asia is less than that of a single African village …”

        I hadn’t heard that before. Do you have any references to it ? It’s interesting, but it sounds way too smug.

        As for the rest of this debate, the Dean of Science, UNSW, and colleagues are being absolutely, sickeningly patronising to Aboriginal culture. Look at their language: geology, anthropology, indeed the scientific method, are all “inappropriate”. Inappropriate to what ? Aboriginal superstition, of course, but best we jolly them along, don’t you know.

  11. David of Kirkland says

    “While populations may differ superficially in regard to certain physical and physiological characteristics, we are all ultimately derived from the same origins, and share the same human potential. ”
    All of DNA shows that species differ by “superficially small percentage of DNA” and yet are dramatically different. “Potential” is a loose term, as the world operates not on your potential, but on what you actually became. This doesn’t mean you can abuse them, just as you can’t abuse the sick or otherwise disabled; but to pretend that sickness is health or that all groups are equally capable is just utopian, not real.

  12. Harrison Bergeron says

    Academics are no longer the keepers of the flame. They have become the firehose extinguishing it. It is fascinating to be present at the beginnining of the new dark age.

  13. True Wolff says

    @Geary Johansen
    There is much new evidence which supports a multiregional hypothesis for human origins. Please see the work of Milford Wolpoff, who was, until recent DNA work came to light, accused of being racist.

    @d
    As usual, your comments are incisive and valuable. Thank you.

    @Fran
    Yes, David Reich is a good source for the most recent research on human origins. His book is valuable: “Who We Are and How We Got Here.”

    • Stephanie says

      True Wolf, there is not a single credible biologist that denies that all humans had a common ancestor.

  14. Scott M says

    “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years” (a figure that corresponds to the latest widely accepted date of the first arrival of humans to Australia from Africa and Asia). Instead, they are advised to date the Aboriginal presence in Australia to “the beginning of the Dreaming/s,” because such language “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

    There’s really only one erudite response to this.

    OH, FFS!!

    It’s not just that the policy-makers are deranged here, they’re hypocritically deranged.

  15. dirk says

    I think it’s time to divide the history classes in secondary and university in two types: everybody is free to choose which narrative he or she is to choose to know more about. The mythical/romantic/religious one, or the scientific one. Remember it’s not much more than about a century that all kids in the US were taught that all humans originated from one human pair, Adam and Eve, and this was long after science had found out that this was not so. Just let everybody decide which truth he wants to be educated in.

    But what am I talking here as of this is new, is creationism not already taught on many US schools as the final and only truth?

    • Mark H. says

      Not the government schools and universities – it is forbidden by law to teach creationism, even as an option. In fact, to argue with pure Darwinian orthodoxy can (and has) cost teachers and professors their jobs, even as genetic studies continue to show the weaknesses of Neo-Darwinism.

      Creationism is taught in some private religious schools (generally alongside the Darwinian explanation) and by many homeschool parents – most of whom were taught Darwinian orthodoxy themselves and found it wanting.

  16. Don't Say Spirit Animal says

    Is there a way to honor different cultural beliefs while acknowledging that all enduring human cultures are built on a foundation of superstitious hogwash?

    • BrainFireBob says

      Yeah, you listen to the final proposition of Wittgenstein’s Tractactus Logico-Philosophicus. “Whereof one cannot speak, one must perforce be silent.”

      God, I love that book.

      Then you restrict teaching to the forms of rhetoric, the performance of mathematics, and keep history to purely dates and facts.

      You know, like was done for millenia before new people came along and decided they knew better because reasons.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        So you’d trust a history written thousands of years ago more than you’d trust a contemporary version? You cannot possibly be so simple as to think that history is just dates and facts.

        • BrainFireBob says

          Best part of watching you try to be insulting is when you burn yourself.

    • Simon says

      @Don’t Say Spirit Animal : I think it is possible but it requires both a hermeneutic shift on the part of traditional societies, and a symbolic shift on the part of Westerners.

      In the case of aborigenes, what truly matters is not so much the conservation of their literal origin myths as it is. Somewhat, it has evolved many times since its inception. And its perpetual of evolution is a sign of vitality. What is important is the embedded nexus of fictions and narratives on the one hand, homologous rituals shaping ecological practices and structure of kinships on the other.

      Now, once you change the locus and socius of aborigenes (with them being transplanted in urban environments, or when western rules of land property are applied to their native landscapes), the myth starts to lose its relevance. The processus is accelerated when they have to interact with a dominant culture whose language, system of signs and family structures are different.

      The solution progressives sought, to preserve aborigene culture was the reservation model : isolation, protection, freezing. In my opinion, the best model would be to help them developing their system of signs, raising their family structures to human rights standards and enhancing their ecological practices with scientific knowledge.

      To stick within the first challenge, I think aborigenes need to take the shift from oral cultures to written cultures. Indigenous folklorists should be able to collect their myths, traditions, idiolects and put them in scripture with their own alphabet and figurality. Then, if they want their tradition to be a living one, they should develop a system of hermeneutic application to extend the origin myth indefinitely. To put in the vocabulary I best know, they should develop their own Midrash, which is a perpetual process of rewriting the foundation text by adding narrative grafts and contextualized interpretations.

      As for White Australians, they should not be told to believe in Aborigene myths or identify with an origin they do not share. But somehow, adding indigenous symbols and chants to the national emblems and hymns, or celebrating indigenous fast days in the national calendar should be the first of politeness. Anglo-saxon people living within First Nations should concede a significant amount of intercultural dialogue and cross-pollination. See New-Zealand inhabitants making the “haka” regardless of their ethnicity.

      • simon says

        erratum (english not my native tongue … sry)
        *somehow it has evolved …
        *its perpetual evolution …
        *put them into …
        * to put it in ….
        *doing the haka …

    • dirk says

      Maybe, DSSA, the reason of the wish to include their dreamy beginning of it all in the Australian curiculaon human history, is the disdain of western culture of that -superstitious hogwash- of yours, and many others?? Mythology hogwash? The bible hogwash? Literature hogwash? Above, I pleaded for a choice between science and mythology, whereby one of the choices should be to take notice of both the narratives.

      I like as well the Greec, as the German mythology, 4 of the days of the week are named after Germanic Gods (from Tuesday to Friday).

  17. codadmin says

    After 40,000 years, it’s quite remarkable what Europeans managed to achieve on that landmass in under 250 years.

    • Scott M says

      It’s that cold, overcast weather. That stuff’s evolutionary dynamite!

  18. Stephanie says

    I had just started this article when I came out of the train station at Redfern, near the University of Sydney. The first thing I see is a mural saying “40 000 years is a long long time, 40 000 still on my mind.” I wonder if the self-congratulatory SJW that writing this will be charged with a hate crime one day?

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      That mural dates back to 1983. Try not to be so filled with hate and spite. It’s just a mural.

      • Stephanie says

        You don’t think they had SWJs in 1983?

        This is rich coming from someone who combs through Quillette comments all day, looking for an opportunity to spew hate and spite.

    • Heike says

      There it is again. An SJW assigning beliefs to other people and then criticizing them for what she invented.

  19. Morgan Foster says

    “In particular, university staff are explicitly advised to avoid making reference to the fact that “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years” … Instead, they are advised to date the Aboriginal presence in Australia to “the beginning of the Dreaming/s,” because such language “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

    It wasn’t so very long ago that public schools in some of America’s southern states taught that the earth has existed for only 6,000 years.

    We now know that white people who believe this are stupid and should not be indulged.

    Indigenous Australians, though … I guess they’re cultural geniuses and their feelings need to be protected.

    Still, I’m not seeing the equity in this.

  20. “approved by the UNSW Dean of Science”

    UNSW Dean of Political Correctness would be more appropriate.

  21. Nicholas says

    Obviously it’s going to be a snap to teach this stuff, you keep a few notes at first, and once you know a few spiels you can wing it, as long as you remember the core basics you’re golden! Best of all, it’s a religion, and the whole point of religions is, they have all the answers, you’re not suppose to QUESTION them. Me and a whole whack of less-promising leftists will have a bountiful career!

  22. Nakatomi Plaza says

    It’s lovely to think of those indigenous people imaging that time began with them. Of course, we must destroy that dream, smashing it until all the romance and beauty is gone and they’re forced to see the universe in precisely the same way everybody does. And if they resist, I suppose we’ll just have to kill them.

    Such is progress, I suppose.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Nakatomi Plaza

      You’re patronizing them. Infantilizing them.

      Such is progressivism.

    • It’s lovely to think of those young earth creationists imaging that time began with them. Of course, we must destroy that dream, smashing it until all the romance and beauty is gone and they’re forced to see the universe in precisely the same way everybody does. And if they resist, I suppose we’ll just have to kill them.

      See how stupid you sound?

      • James says

        Knowing hypotheses to be true and asserting that science is settled is not science. It is type of ignorance.

    • Heike says

      Creationists had their dream smashed because it was unscientific nonsense. The justification was it’s a crime to put unscientific nonsense in children’s education.

      Now we are applying the principle equally, as was demanded, and suddenly it’s wrong. You follow that up with a false appeal to mass murder which literally nobody is saying.

      Of course, intellectually I know the reason for the obvious double standard: the Western Left considers the Western Right and Christians specifically as The Other. This is explained in the outstanding essay, “I can tolerate anything except the outgroup.” http://archive.is/QRJ6m

  23. Cora says

    I have no problem with this anymore than I do with any religion or culture being studied and accepted as a way of understanding. God knows they have had our religion shoved down their throats for several hundred years now. Why not be willing to learn about them, without demanding they have to believe what you believe? Since OUR science seems to be constantly changing as we ‘discover’ that what we thought 50 yrs ago is now bunk (take your STATIN boyo) I think we can give some here. It’s not like science is static.

    • Michael Johnston says

      Cora,

      Of course science isn’t static – its theories change over time to accommodate accumulating evidence. Neither ought we be in the business of telling people what to believe or not believe.

      However, when we are teaching science – as they presumably do in the science faculty at the University of New South Wales, it is morally incumbent on us to teach the theories that best reflect the prevailing evidence. That, after all, is the essence of science. At present the evidence favours the view that indigenous Australians have been in Australia for somewhere between 40,000 and 65,000 years over the the view that they’ve been there ‘forever’. (The prevailing evidence also favours the view that the universe itself has existed for about 14.6 billion years, which, while a very long time, is nonetheless substantially shy of ‘forever’.)

      Also, it isn’t “our” science, it’s everybody’s. It’s the most powerful tool ever invented for understanding the natural world and, while its epistemic methods were largely developed in Europe and the Middle East, we ought to be generous with it.

      • Cora says

        I disagree that it’s (modern western science) the most powerful tool for understanding the natural world. If you pay attention to indigenous ‘science’ you will find it was there before you.

        • Michael Johnston says

          Cora,

          All cultures have had methods of understanding the natural world, and they’ve tended, given sufficient time for trial and error, to be quite effective for developing simple technologies to address local problems. They have not, however, been very good at understanding the universal and abstract principles that govern the natural world.

          To take a number of examples, our understandings of mechanics, atomic structure, the origins and physical structure of the universe itself, biological evolution, genetics and cellular structure, are all attributable to the methods of western science. This is not a coincidence. Western science has at its disposal both complex mathematics and the experimental method. Neither of these things are intuitive – in fact scientific thinking is very difficult, and requires the active suppression of natural but erroneous cognitive processes such as confirmation bias.

          What we call western science developed gradually over the two-and-a-half millennia since the time of Aristotle and continues to develop. It certainly isn’t perfect, but it has given rise to a far more complete and sophisticated understanding of the natural world than any other epistemic system in history. The proof of that is the technology that it’s produced: antibiotics, atomic reactors, space travel, genetic engineering, digital computers, the internet, semiconductors, rechargeable batteries, solar panels… We’d have none of that without the methods and theories of western science.

          • Cora says

            ” (…) antibiotics, atomic reactors, space travel, genetic engineering, digital computers, the internet, semiconductors, rechargeable batteries, solar panels… We’d have none of that without the methods and theories of western science.”

            With the possible exception of antibiotics, which intent has been destroyed by the devastation they cause, this list of nasties is just about complete to describe our misguided science. WIth the application of a bit of humility, maybe we can survive it.

          • MichaelJ says

            Cora,

            The technology resulting from western science has vastly increased the human life-span, quality of life, health and prosperity the world over. It has also created space for the idea of political liberty. Not to acknowledge that, in my opinion, displays breathtaking ingratitude. Does it have its downsides? Of course. Would you prefer to live without it? Well, why don’t you try and see how you go? Give up your computer and other appliances, your electrical power, phone, hot water, medicines, motorised transport and all of the rest of the “list of nasties”, as you put it. See how long you can endure life without any of those things.

            But all of that is beside the point. The point is that, whether you like technology or not, the fact that it actually works is testament to the efficacy of western science when it comes to understanding the forces and structures that shape the natural world.

        • @Cora
          I disagree that it’s (modern western science) the most powerful tool for understanding the natural world. If you pay attention to indigenous ‘science’ you will find it was there before you.

          ‘Indigenous science’ or diverse ways of interpretting and understanding the world did exist before ‘science’. The thing is they are manifestly far less effective at explaining and prediciting a very wide range of phenomena and massively less effective at supporting the development of tehcnology, medicine etc. It is quite significant that all you argue for is precedence not for the power or effectiveness of the different systems.

        • NashTiger says

          I see @Cora is an Old testament literalist. Or maybe an adherent to Isis, Osiris, and Baal.

          As for indigenous ‘science’, I only respect those that, unlike Australia and the Americas, advanced beyond the Stone Age

          • Truth Hits Everyone says

            Cora: If somebody here were to suggest teaching a different curriculum to indigenous people that left out physics, chemistry, and biology because they couldn’t handle it, you would rightly consider that suggestion highly patronizing and yes, racist. And yet when this same goal is promoted through some well-intentioned program of cultural inclusiveness you are all for it.

            You would deny historically marginalized groups a complete education under the pretext of protecting them. This is the equivalent of not teaching children to look both ways before they cross the street because you don’t want to bum them out by teaching them they might die; your good intentions will not mitigate the harm you are doing by instilling them with false beliefs or allowing their existing false beliefs to go unchallenged.

  24. Gustavo says

    “All cultures and religions have creation myths—and billions of people around the world still believe in them.”
    True, but if I say to my wife “you’re the light of my eyes” I don’t mean she’s the photons that impact my retina… but it’s still “true” at a different level.
    Serious religious belief understand these poetic representations of metaphysical realities do not collide with scientific knowledge. A University CAN have a religious background and still will not conflate both metaphysical mythological representations with hard literal scientific facts.

    • Wile E. Coyote says

      I think the important distinction here is that the science addresses the question of when a physical human presence was established in Australia. When a metaphysical presence was established is another question, outside the realm of science. In other words, science says peoples’ bodies arrived in Australia ~65,000 to 40,000 years ago. Science is not in a position to confirm or refute the belief that Aboriginal peoples’ spirits were in Australia forever.

      • NashTiger says

        Well, Geologic Science tells us that their spirits could only have been there for 130 Million years, since they would have been in Gondwanaland spirits before that

  25. Cassandra says

    ‘And politically progressive academics have long felt compelled to acknowledge their alternative understandings of the world, lest they be accused of “scientific imperialism” or of dismissing “other ways of knowing.”’

    Postmodernism strikes again.

  26. Aristodemus says

    Why isn’t Young Earth Creationism just another way of knowing?

  27. NashTiger says

    “this list of nasties is just about complete to describe our misguided science”.
    And here sits the sinner @Cora using a digital computer with semiconductors to lecture us on the evils of modernity

  28. Joe Lane says

    Today would have been my wife’s 70th birthday; she’s been gone 11 years now. She was Indigenous from South Australia and would be incensed by the supremacist notion that the ancestors of Aboriginal people didn’t come out of Africa like all other human beings’ ancestors, that somehow they are thereby superior.
    As an educator, she would have been disgusted at the current idiocies – stemming from a grotesque confluence of post-modernism, cultural relativism and racism – that deny the realities of Aboriginal history, sixty or seventy or eighty thousand years (what the hell does it matter?) of hunting and gathering and the ingenuity needed to exist on the driest continent on earth for so long, with no domesticable plants or animals.
    And as an tertiary educator, she would be overjoyed to know that, out of a population of seven hundred thousand people, sixty thousand are currently university graduates. How to combat some of the myths about Aboriginal people – many of which are propagated by Aboriginal elites – and get across that the great majority of Aboriginal people in Australia live in towns and cities and are getting on with living without having to prostitute their Aboriginality, black hats, colours and all.

    • dirk says

      That is a moving and very appropriate story and comment here, Joe, thanks, such ones are made all too seldom here, but very good you told it.
      And I wonder whether it fits in either the alt right, either the SJW narrative.
      (rhetoric remark)

  29. Sid Haidt says

    On a somewhat related note, I see Cambridge will assign all white professors with a tutor of colour, to let the profs know when they are being racist. I’m amazed this story hasn’t made more headlines. They are basically assigning political monitors to anyone with a pasty face – a monitor of any other race, who will be heavily indoctrinated into progressive ideology, where racism and oppression are lurking in ebery nook and cranny. Can’t think of anything much more Maoist.

    Let the Terror begin.

  30. Pingback: Episode 213 - A Podcast to Indigenous Australians - The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove

  31. Peter says

    Two things I’d raise here. Firstly, the use of the word discover. Historically the word referred to what Europeans, English etc did. Interestingly, those same Europeans and English also used that word for saying what they discovered when they arrived at said destination. That often included an existing indigenous population as well as flora and fauna. Patently, the use of the word implies that it was the first time they had found or seen those. Not that no one else was living there. It can only mean that if you wish to change the meaning of the word discover as used in historical contexts. Unfortunately there are so many words that are being redefined that are giving rise to these arguments when all one has to do is accept that the word meant what the authors meant. Not some academic in recent times think it should mean due to their political or social beliefs.
    On a second issue. This desire of some academic institutes to insist we accept certain behaviours and beliefs because they think it is more acceptable now leads to some weird recommendations and regulation. For example, my wife who worked in a child care centre in the nursery room (ie chn aged up to 12 mths), had to get the children to do activities to show that the development of Aboriginal mathematics had been taught during NADOC week. I kid you not. My first point is that how does one do that for a child less than 12 mths old? My wife asked that and was told that the centre was getting audited afterwards and so she had to get something on the wall to show it had been done. Her answer was to get the kids to finger painting and we all know what the average 10 yr old painting looks like. These were stuck on the wall and titled “Aboriginal Math development”. The title could have been anything. She passed the audit. This is how such ideas filter down and are interpreted and regulated so as to be acted on.

  32. Barney Doran says

    I’m with the author on this one. Can you imagine the brouhaha if this so-called Dean had made it a requirement to teach that Indigenous Australians were not evolved homo sapiens? There would have been a mob melt down.

  33. Greg Allan says

    Maybe the problem here is the assumption UNSW is anything like a “top” university. It lost that status quite a long time ago.

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