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The Shy Minister PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, who is at the centre of a current fuss over federal funding cuts to research in that country, has been pressed by the media and by interested citizens to state - yes or no - whether or not he believes in one of the most basic findings of modern science, a constantly reconfirmed triumph of reason and research: evolution of species. He just flat-out won't say. There's a suspicion that Mr. Goodyear is suspicious of this aspect of science, perhaps because he's a creationist. Asked about those rumours, Mr. Goodyear said that "such conversations are not worth having." I think we'd strongly disagree on that ...

(I must say that I'm happy to see that President Obama's suggestion of making Sanjay Gupta the US Science & Technology boss, was not realized. The charismatic Gupta had the looks and smile for the job, and far better qualifications than Mr. Goodyear, but he withdrew his name after a heavy negative reaction resulted to his name being introduced. See this link for a few details...)

You should know that Mr. Goodyear, 51, is a chiropractor from Cambridge, Ontario, who studied chemistry and physics courses as an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo, welding and automotive mechanics, statistics and kinesiology. Those are his total qualifications for the position which he now occupies.

(I'll add, to be fair, that it's not necessarily "applied kinesiology" [AK] that is referred to here, since the term kinesiology refers to the legitimate study of body movements, while AK is pure quackery.)

In response to an inquiry from the Globe & Mail newspaper about his shyness, Minister Goodyear said:

I'm not going to answer that question [about evolution]. I am a Christian, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate.

Brian Alters, founder and director of the Evolution Education Research Centre at McGill University in Montreal, characterized Goodyear's refusal to answer:

It is the same as asking the gentleman, "Do you believe the world is flat?" and he doesn't answer on religious grounds. Or gravity, or plate tectonics, or that the Earth goes around the sun.

Executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, James Turk, said he was shocked that the minister would invoke religion when asked about evolution:

It is inconceivable that a government would have a minister of science that rejects the basis of scientific discovery and traditions.

Well, it may be worse than that. Mr. Goodyear claims that when he was in high school, he'd discovered a dramatic and unrecognized fact about internal combustion engines that should have made him a millionaire before graduation, though he seems not to have followed up on it. He says:

We [students] were already tweaking with a coil that would wrap around the upper [radiator] hose and it got an extra five miles to the gallon... So I've been there on this discovery stuff.

Does he really believe this? And does he believe in evolution?