02 December 2011

The politics of quackery #nlpoli

Comedian Dara O’Briain has a routine someone has posted to youtube in which he lambastes advocates of ideas that have no foundation in facts.

He lampoons the irrational.

On that latter one, O’Briain could be lampooning the provincial New Democrats, and specifically Dale Kirby.

Kirby presented a brief to the Hebron development review commission this week.  His comments included a call for a change to offshore work schedules to two weeks on the rig and four weeks of payment for not working.  Kirby also called it “reckless” that the oil companies are allowed to use the S-92 helicopter to fly workers back and forth to the rigs. He said the helicopter was “dangerous”.

In an interview with CBC’s St. John’s Morning Show, Kirby repeated his comments about the offshore shift system. Kirby said that he and his colleagues had seen research that such changes would be marvellously beneficial to workers, to offshore safety and to offshore production. 

Kirby specifically referred to an increase in incidents of unspecified kinds in the third week of a three week work rotation.  He also claimed that a shorter work shift would attract more women to the jobs.

You can read Kirby’s presentation to the Hebron review hearings. Note that he makes no reference at all to any independent evidence to support his claims. He merely talks about the changes in North Sea oil industry rotation schedules.

When pressed by Morning Show host Anthony Germain on the issue, Kirby didn’t cite any specific examples of anything.  He shifted to a claim that somehow “we” owed it to workers.

Germain persisted with another specific reference to the research Kirby supposedly had.

With Germain having now given him three opportunities to give something concrete, Kirby then got to the truth:  this is an area where someone needs to do research. 

That’s why Kirby didn’t refer to any concrete evidence.  There isn ‘t any.  All Kirby did this past week was push a political line that is devoid of any intellectual or other integrity.  It’s just a pile of ideologically driven garbage.

It’s quackery.

Rather than hear from credible witnesses, the Hebron review commission wound up hearing from a witchdoctor, homeopath, horseshit pedlar, to borrow a phrase from O’Briain.

Kirby’s attack on the S-92 is basically the same. It’s another round of political ghoulism. The helicopter has been in use around the globe.  There has been one local tragedy and other incidents of one type of seriousness or the other.  There’s plenty of evidence around to allow one to compare incidents globally with this aircraft with those locally. 

You can the S-92 with other types of helicopters.  You can even collect the information to compare the period from initial use to the same point in its flight history for other types of helicopters.

Kirby didn’t do any of that.

Dale Kirby, education professor at the local university, with absolutely no experience in aviation, offshore safety or anything else offered his entirely unsubstantiated opinion about things he – quite obviously knows nothing about.

Horseshit pedlar indeed.

Kirby didn’t do that because his presentation had no need of facts, evidence or anything that could be mistaken for substance. 

As for those other words Kirby tossed around, the wannabe provincial New Democrat leader couldn’t have given a better example of just how reckless, feckless and dangerous some politicians can be. 

Kirby’s approach to politics is nothing more substantive than a left-wing version of the average American Tea Bagger.  It thrives on misinformation.  It serves only to mislead. it is irrational.

And we can only expect more of it from the NDP over the next four years.

- srbp -