Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Oh what joy - Windbags hoaxed.

What a fascinating day. Crikey has revealed that Quadrant editor Keith Windshuttle has been hoaxed into publishing a piece of spurious science.

The journalist who revealed the hoax has blogged about the ethics of the hoax. I tend to agree that Windshuttle has made himself fair game for this given his pompous approach to Aboriginal history. Windshuttle has attempted to defend himself by arguing that the article couldn't really claim to be a hoax because some of its content was accurate...please!

But I must admit that I'm not yet fully sure of what the hoax is meant to be. The first half of the article is pretty robust except for its clue-filled opening. But at least the first reference to inserting human genes into crops is genuine. The two CSIRO annual reports cited aren't on line so can't be checked.

I'm not even sure that the article properly concludes with what Simons and the author think it concludes - that science should be beyond public scrutiny.

So weak hoax it may be, but Windshuttle should still be a bit ashamed. For example, if a paper claims to have been presented at a conference it is not hard to check. The conference itself was genuine, but the paper wasn't on the program.

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