Forget 2012. It’s more like 1984, said professor Allan Gregg as he prepares to warn returning Carleton University students about the disappearance of fact from government decisions.
“I have been a keen observer of the political scene and note with alarm a pattern of removal of scientific fact-based evidence in policy and government decision making,” said the TVO talk show host. “It’s hysterical that 2012 is mirroring Orwell’s dystopia.”
In a talk Wednesday titled “Nineteen Eighty-Four in 2012: The Assault on Reason”, Gregg hopes to hold up that mirror as he welcomes students to the university’s Faculty of Public Affairs’ new River Building.
“When do scientists ever protest something on Parliament Hill?,” he asked. “Yet in an unprecedented move in July, scientists in white lab coats gathered on the hill to shout ‘What do we want? Peer reviewed research. When do we want it? Now!’ It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.”
One of the issues protestors spoke out against was $88.2 million in cuts brought to Environment Canada in the 2012 budget, Gregg said.
The role of university is to seek out knowledge, not belittle it, he added, saying he hopes to rouse students to realize the important role cold hard facts play in everything from democracy to international trade.
“If we value science and reason and fact-based evidence I think there’s a number of things we need to address,” he said. “2010 saw the removal of the long-form census. The long gun registry was removed this summer as every police chief across the country said they need it to do their work.”
Evidence and fact, Gregg said, are important tools that governments can use as foundations for policy decisions that aren’t just based on dogma or ideology.
“You can look at how important reason is to all those things that we enjoy,” he said. “If we continue on this path we’ll end up with a culture that amuses itself to death.”
Allan Gregg will deliver Nineteen Eighty-Four in 2012: The Assault on Reason at the River Building’s theatre and atrium at 7:30 p.m Wednesday, September 5.