I get that cartoonists should stir the pot.

I get that cartoonists will present points of view that I disagree with.

But I don't think this is legitimate...

The Age cartoonist, John Spooner has a habit of veering away from political satire towards making anti-intellectual claims about global warming. These are "University of East Bumcrack" claims. The University of East Bumcrack was first identified as existing when Annabel Crabb revealed on Insiders that this is the place from which Andrew Bolt cherry picks random factoids as "evidence" that the world is cooling.

There's a Flat Earth Society. It's not a joke. Its members genuinely believe the earth is flat and not a globe.

If John Spooner produced an ongoing series of cartoons commenting on political issues but with spurious pseudo-scientific "facts" seriously supporting a Flat Earth, then he'd be seen as a crank and nobody would bother publishing his Flat Earth cartoons. (See an example of Flat Earth reasoning here.) If you try to counter a Flat Earther's beliefs (perhaps by asking about how the South Magnetic Pole seems to exist), you'll enter "Yes, but..." territory where they jump to a different, unrelated "fact". This is a sure sign that you've entered the University of East Bumcrack's world of random "evidence". Spooner's "facts" about climate change (plants consume carbon dioxide and a self-selected internet poll showed many people have climate change scepticism) are no more credible - and no more relevant - than the Flat Earth arguments about parallel lines proving ships don't disappear over the horizon.

Now, if some people believe that the "sun is about 3000 miles high and 32 miles across", I'll sigh and feel sorry for them. Maybe they can be the subject of a gentle joke from time to time. I don't want them producing navigation systems for jet airliners. I don't want them being given equal time whenever The Age produces an article on overseas travel. A cartoonist might present a clever cartoon pretending that some politician is a Flat Earther.

But The Age shouldn't carry a cartoon arguing that the earth really IS flat. Ditto Mr Spooner on climate change.

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In 2009 we were walking at Wilson's Prom when the weather suddenly turned colder. Perhaps I should have reported this change in the weather to the UofEB?

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Anthony Holmes November 20th, 2010 07:50:11 PM

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