Is Mātauranga Māori really a “way of knowing”?

September 22, 2022 • 12:45 pm

As I’ve written many times, Mātauranga Māori (MM)considered the “way of knowing” of the indigenous Māori, who arrived in what is now New Zealand from Polynesia in the 13th century—has been the subject of some kerfuffle in NZ. That’s because there’s a movement, promoted not just by the Māori but by many white “allies”, to make MM equivalent to “modern science” (sometimes called “Western science”) in the school curriculum. And by “school” I include “kindergarten through college,” because that’s what MM proponents want. Because all things Māori are valorized in NZ, and more or less off limits to criticism within the country, only the brave will investigate MM further. Is it really science? Is it part science? And if the latter, what are those other parts?

But when you do investigate whether MM is equivalent to modern science, as I have, you find out that it’s not even close. There are bits of “practical knowledge” in it—stuff like when to harvest berries and catch eels—but it lacks a coherent methodological underpinning. Instead, MM is a mishmash of practical knowledge, traditional lore, theology, morality, codes of behavior, stories, myths, and so on.

I continue to read and write about it because nobody in New Zealand, with rare exceptions, has my freedom as a foreigner to analyze MM without being, well, canceled. Yet I know that there are many Kiwis opposed to accepting the equivalence of MM and modern science, much less teaching that equivalence in science classes. I know this because every week I get emails from disaffected Kiwi scientists who applaud me for criticizing the “equivalence” trope and telling me that they dare not question it themselves. Indeed, some who have questioned it have lost their jobs.

Wikipedia says this about MM:

Mātauranga Māori has only recently gained recognition in the scientific community for including some knowledge consistent with the scientific method; it was previously perceived by scientific institutions and researchers as entirely mythological lore, entirely superseded by modern science. In the 21st century, Mātauranga is often used by academics and government institutions when addressing particular environmental problems, with institutions or organisations partnering with iwi [roughly, Māori subunits equivalent to “tribes”], typically with government funding.

Note the weak tea here: “some knowledge consistent with the scientific method.” Yes, that’s true: there is a time to gather berries and a time to let berries ripen; a time to gather eels together and a time to refrain from gathering. But this is the “practical knowledge” of MM.  And no, it’s not entirely mythological lore, but MM surely includes a ton of mythology. As for imbuing government initiatives with MM, that is largely a form of obeisance to the Māori done largely from guilt.  (I am not denying here that many Māori were treated abysmally by immigrants from Europe, but rather questioning whether we need to absorb their traditional lore into modern science.)

After I read the paper below, published in 2015 in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand , as well as the MM “flash cards” that I’ll deal with in a forthcoming post, I realized two things:

1.)  MM is not a way of knowing but a way of life: it encompasses virtually all of Māori culture. While parts of it are “consistent with science”, most of it is not. This is explicit if you read the “flash cards” I’ll show tomorrow. A “way of knowing” implies a methodology, and MM has no methodology except, in the empirical bits, the use of trial and error. To assert that there are gods, that all things are connected through descent from earth and sky and divine creation, and so on, is not “knowledge” but belief. MM, then, is most often a form of belief, and comes close in many ways to a religion. Its assertions cannot be questioned, are regarded as sacred, there are divinities to be worshiped and propitiated, and so on. This religious aspect is part of the MM “way of life.”

2.) The promoters of MM have higher ambitions than I thought: they not only want MM seen as the indigenous science, but want reparations for the previous hegemony of Western science, part of the reparations consisting of having “respect” for the tenets of MM and of teaching MM in science class as a kind of science.

To fathom the hard-core advocates of Mātauranga Māori and their ambitions, I recommend your reading this short paper, which is online free (click on screenshot, pdf here). 

I will put the explanatory MM “flashcards” in a later post as including them might make this too long.

The paper’s abstract really shows that it is a big demand for incorporating MM into not just the science of NZ, but as an accepted part of Kiwi culture that cannot be criticized by non-Māori:

All peoples develop their own academic traditions: philosophies grounded in their experiences over successive generations, and theories for growing knowledge and wisdom. Mātauranga Māori (mātauranga) is the Indigenous knowledge system of these lands. It is dynamic, innovative and generative. The mātauranga continuum is the knowledge accumulated through this system. Government policies and systems have marginalised mātauranga and prioritised Western science, and the past 100 years have seen a slowing in the expansion of the mātauranga continuum. Unless the survival of mātauranga is prioritised, it will cease to flourish. Māori have discussed and written extensively about the ongoing impact of colonisation on mātauranga and tikanga Māori. This paper builds on those discussions, arguing for tino rangatiratanga, including Māori ownership of mātauranga, fulfilment of the government’s obligations to Māori, and the reinstitution of mātauranga as a primary knowledge system in Aotearoa. It explains why mātauranga revitalisation is important and outlines some of the steps towards this goal. We are calling for Western academics to support mātauranga revitalisation, with the vision of two functional knowledge systems operating that are unique to New Zealand.

Even seven years ago a paper in the J Roy Soc NZ was larded with untranslated Māori words (as we’ll see in a day or so, the language itself is considered part of the “way of knowing”.) Note that the second sentence is misleading, as MM is not an “indigenous knowledge system”. While it includes some knowledge, it is not a way of producing knowledge, which itself comes from trial and error rather than any widespread toolkit like that of modern science. Further, a lot of MM’s “spiritual knowledge” is dubious at best, and the divinities that oversee the whole system don’t exist.

To “reinstitute MM as a primary knowledge system in Aorearoa [the Māori word for ‘New Zealand’]” is to make a mockery of the very word “knowledge”. It’s as if one described Orthodox Judaism as a “knowledge system”. And of course to assert that the Māori “own” MM is the equivalent of saying that outsiders cannot criticize it. That’s why the seven Auckland University Professors who said that MM, while sociologically and anthropologically important, was not the same thing as science, were widely attacked, with two of them even investigated by the Royal Society of NZ.  No, science and MM are not “two functional knowledge systems.”. Science is, while MM is a way of life that includes many things that don’t count as knowledge.

I’ll give a few quotes from the paper, which I’ll indent:

Definition of MM:

In this paper, mātauranga refers to Māori knowledge and all that underpins it, as well as Māori ways of knowing. Mātauranga is in our stories, our environments, our kawa and our tikanga. Mātauranga includes ‘language, whakapapa, technology, systems of law and social control, systems of property and value exchange, forms of expression, and much more’ (Waitangi Tribunal 2011a, p. 22). It is passed between generations and developed through our arts and technologies. Rāwiri (2012, p. 20) describes it as a ‘theoretical and applied values and knowledge creative activity base’. Mātauranga has expanded in response to exploring, theorising and understanding at local whānau, hapū and iwi levels. As an experiential system, it emphasises relationship-based learning using whānau and hapū understandings in our own environments. It is a complete knowledge system that includes science.

Well, I won’t define all the terms, but you can already see that it’s more than a “system of knowledge”, but also “all that underpins it”, which means “Māori culture.”

It can’t be partitioned into science-y and non-sciency parts:

This paper refers to the currently dominant knowledge system as Western epistemology, and its science as Western science. Western science incorporates knowledge from non-Western epistemologies. However, the structures of Western science—such as the specific compartmentalisation into disciplines, the hierarchies organising knowledge within those disciplines, and the types of knowledge that are excluded or included—reflect Western philosophical traditions.

This part isn’t true. As we’ll see on the next MM post, MM can be partitioned into disciplines like marine biology. But let’s continue:

Pūtaiao, which refers both to Western science when taught in te reo Māori and to a subset of mātauranga most recognisable to Western science (Stewart 2007), is not discussed in this paper. Dividing mātauranga into science and non-science, or any of the compartments that Western knowledge systems use, is inappropriate. Mātauranga is its own system with its own organisation, and it is this system and organising that we want to prioritise.

It’s not clear whether they are “prioritising” it only in the paper’s discussion, or in NZ education, but what’s clear is that this is something that cannot be taught as coequal to “Western science”.

“Reparations” for MM:

Western knowledge has taken much from Indigenous knowledge systems (Kuokkanen 2007, p. 150). Western academics must consider how they will give back to mātauranga. The relationship between Western epistemologies and mātauranga is currently one of domination, power and control. Those who have benefited most from this unequal relationship should support mātauranga to develop equally and independently.

I would question whether Western knowledge has taken much from MM in particular, and I would argue that modern science has done a lot more for the health and progress of Kiwis, including Māori, than has MM. Scientific medicine is one example, and if it has “domination,” it’s because it works—in contrast to the chanting and herbal and spiritual treatments of Māori.  And those who have benefitted hugely from the “unequal relationship” are the Māori themselves, who certainly avail themselves constantly of the fruits of modern science (antibiotics, to mention just one item).  Western academics have virtually nothing to give back to mātauranga in terms of knowledge, but perhaps what the authors mean is “power and control.” That is, advocates of MM want it to become coequal with modern science. This is why the government (and many NZ academics) are pushing to have MM taught as science. The whole argument is about power, but in the end the fruits of science will show which “way of knowing” is more fruitful.

Cooperation is not the goal.  (my emphasis)

Although there will be opportunities to work together, that is not the goal of revitalising mātauranga. The goal is not partnership; it is tino rangatiratanga and reinstituting mātauranga as a primary and independent knowledge system. Future relationships will be between equals.

I’m sorry, but they are not equal. MM is not a knowledge system, and even its empirical bits do not make it “equal” to modern science. This undergirds the attempts to force MM to be taught as an “equal” to modern science—practice that will be a disaster for all the inhabitants of New Zealand, who will not only be confused about how to find out truth, but who will also fall behind the rest of the world in science education, as has been happening for some time.

Finally, some gobbledygook:

This approach has implications for innovation and generating new knowledge. Exposing all New Zealand academics to mātauranga will reveal the presuppositions underlying Western knowledge systems, and expand their thinking beyond those limits. This could inspire new conceptions of knowledge and approaches to creating knowledge. It will also assist in developing skills that promote conversation and learning from different knowledge systems. . . Teaching multiple knowledge systems gives us the ability to experience the world in different ways, to recognise how those systems affect our perception and understanding, and to extend our understandings (Kuokkanen 2007; Stewart 2007).

This sounds good, doesn’t it? But it’s nonsense. As is usual in these discussions, not one example is showing how the infusion of MM into science will improve our understanding of the universe. Indeed, the infusion will degrade science, since we would be forced to take seriously creationism, gods, lizard spirits that control rivers, and so on.  Teaching “multiple knowledge systems” may be of anthropological and sociologcal value, but teaching MM is of no scientific value at all.

34 thoughts on “Is Mātauranga Māori really a “way of knowing”?

  1. I think there’s a notion – with any indigenous peoples – that their methods and “ways of knowing” would have eventually led, with the indigenous peoples in control, of the products of modern science – MRI, the LHC, etc. – if only “white colonizers” had not unlawfully destroyed their chance.

    1. How about even the plough? Or metal tools? Or glass?
      But this is all technology, not science per se. Our host is making the point that Maori and other indigenous belief systems cannot understand how the world and the universe works. There is no testable theory of gravity, of energy, of biologic metabolism. They see the manifestations all around them yet they cannot begin to figure them out. Religious Europeans were able to start tackling these questions without necessarily abandoning their faith. Religion eventually came, grudgingly, to accommodate scientific enquiry. But primitive religions/ways of knowing constrain curiosity to what is allowed to be known, revealed by knowledge keepers.

      Canadians learn that Natives showed Jacques Cartier the cure for scurvy during the terrible winter locked in the ice at what is now Quebec City on his second voyage. Yet from reading the accounts it seems unlikely that the Natives recognized it as medicinal in the way we do. The Natives had many cases of scurvy that winter themselves and they were familiar with it. Yet they did not avail themselves of the spruce needle decoction as either a cure or as a preventive. Only the chief’s son seems to have been singled out to receive the cure from a shaman woman as part of a ceremony. Cartier’s men who weren’t too far gone all recovered without the ceremony. (Prayers had already not worked.). Cartier’s Enlightenment mind saw what the Natives could not, except perhaps the shaman woman who wanted to preserve her trade secret.

      1. The Jared Diamond scenario for the Northern hemisphere comes to mind – is there a Southern counterpart? Do the same principles apply – fertility of land as a function if latitude? Fishing was not, AFAIK, a factor in Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    2. I’m waiting for the MM explanation of why their promiscuous eradication of large flightless birds and hundreds of other species as quick and easy food was a proper way to be good stewards of the land.

  2. Possible corrections:

    “a time to refraom from gathering” should probably be “a time to refrain from gathering”

    “a kind of scienc.” should probably be “a kind of science”

    “not a way of proucing knowledge” should probably be “not a way of producing knowledge”

    Sorry about nitpicking an excellent piece.

    1. Also in the same paragraph as “refraom from gathering” the phrase “traditional lore into moern science” should probably be “traditional lore into modern science”.

  3. They say the Irish leprachaun may have originated from a more indigenous Irish people (tuatha de danaan ?) who were vanquished by incoming Celtic Milesians, as some sort of consolation for losing control of the land/culture. I have to wonder if that’s a typical dynamic, where the more advanced/organized group puts the losers on a pedestal, of some sort.

  4. I guess that all traditional or indigenous knowledge is a way of knowing but don’t confuse it with science, especially in education. I published something here in New Zealand yesterday and I refer to MM in that piece. It was published here:

    If you don’t want to read the whole article, here is the relevant excerpt:

    Of course, today we don’t take those myths and legends as truth but we should recognize that they are important for the descendants of those people and are part of the great history of mankind. Surely, here in New Zealand, there is no harm in, and only good can come of, teaching our schoolchildren to respect the views of others. Some class time devoted to Te Reo and Māori culture and history is not too much to ask and will give all New Zealanders a greater appreciation of Māori culture. Both Te Reo and Mātauranga Māori should be treasured and preserved. However, imposing large proportions of class time to Te Reo and Mātauranga Māori to all learners would meet with justified opposition, given other demands on children’s lives and given a noticeable decline in New Zealand’s recent academic rankings relative to those of other nations (see, for example, Long and Te, 2019). Our children must acquire, not only qualifications, but the skills and knowledge that are obligatory if they are to compete in today’s New Zealand and international marketplaces.

    By the way – Te Reo is Māori language.

    David Lillis

    1. There is nothing wrong with teaching Maori culture (it SHOULD indeed be taught) – but as culture, not as another valid and equally important kind of science.

  5. I’m listening to a just released Iona Italia/Daniel James Sharp podcast with Steven Pinker on Areo. They are discussing rationality of primitive, pre-scientific people like the Kalahari San. Iona reads an early section of Pinker’s Rationality beautifully illustrating their rational and scientific thinking. Their “science” of course doesn’t stand up to our modern cutting edge version. They know nothing about quasars and quarks, but in their own unforgiving environment they are masters of knowledge and reasoning. I’m not arguing for any absurd equivalence or borrowing here, just showing respect for their “ways of thinking.”

  6. Thanks for keeping after this, Dr. Jerry. Science is science and superstition is superstition. It’s discouraging that otherwise rational people cave to the dark side for political expediency, but we see the same thing (in theory) here in the US. I’m afraid doing so is a temptation of human nature.

  7. That’s a brave article by David Lillis, and I hope it doesn’t get him into trouble. Early on, he points out that “it is not only Europeans who are capable of violence, prejudice or greed. Over historic time, almost every cultural group, religion and ethnicity has demonstrated itself capable of such behaviours”.

    Too right! And that includes the Maoris, who appear to have exterminated all the large animals of NZ, and much of its ancient forests, in the 400-500 years or so after their own colonisation.

    As for the article that our host quotes, which includes without explanation terms such as iwi and whakapapa (“Have you stopped beating your father yet?”), I am tempted to coin my own neologisms, such as walob (what a load of b***ocks).

    1. it is not only Europeans who are capable of violence, prejudice or greed.

      This is absolutely correct. Europeans were just the ones who happened to develop a technological edge and therefore won most of their encounters with other groups. The Aztec empire, for example, was a colonial empire. Cortés didn’t defeat it by himself: he allied with native groups that no longer wanted to be part of the empire.

      Similarly, in Africa: nobody seems to ask where the Europeans got the slaves from. Mostly, they were the defeated peoples from wars between different pre-colonial African nations.

      India too: before the British arrived, do people really think everybody lived in perfect harmony? No. There was already a colonial empire in place that the British had to destroy in order to take over.

      1. “… before the British arrived, do people really think everybody lived in perfect harmony?”

        I think that is exactly the thought.

        But was that the case for the Maori? Were they isolated? I’d have to read…

        1. On Rarotonga (“Cook” Islands) there is a place with monument marking where the eventual Maori left on vaka for their grand hejira. The New Zealanders have the benefit and/or burden of having only one (I think) pre-colonial people & culture, the Maori. In the US, I can’t imagine an equivalent exercise. The Navajo & Apache, and Utes and Comanches, and Tewa, Towa, Keres Pueblo cutures in New Mexico all have differing Ways of Knowing, all entitled to respect, of course. And there are movements, e.g., some Pueblos and Dine (Navajo), who want to return to pre-colonial values (with perhaps the pickup truck as an exception, etc.). Feeding the world using Pueblo-style agriculture would be a challenge, though people now claiming to practice ancient ways no doubt are personally rewarded by the experience.

  8. As noted, the seven academics who tried to open some debate on MM and science paid a very steep price. And that seems to have had a deadening effect on further discussion of this in universities, academic societies, Government ministries.

    But there are some NZ academics (from a variety of disciplines) who have stepped in to fill the gap in discussion and are questioning some of the MM assertions. The online journal
    is worth supporting by reading their items and engaging with the discussion they are trying to generate.

  9. How is valorizing this system any different than teaching Creationism in the schools, as a separate but equal branch of knowledge?

    I used to hear this sort of argument back in the 80s, when it was fashionable among anthropologists to insist that “other ways of knowing” were as valid as the scientific method, and where I was once publicly scolded at a conference for “privileging Western science.”

    So great. More of the same poppycock, so many decades later.

  10. The most critical part of science is its culture of “self correction”. This is where false assertions are eventually discarded in light of better data. In fact, I consider this to be the very test of whether a system is scientific or not.
    So what I would like to see is any example of MM truth claims that have been found wanting by the Maori. Do they ever admit to having beliefs that they now consider to be wrong?

  11. They seem to lack a bit of self awareness. When asked for examples of how MM knowledge has been helpful they will point to times where MM knowledge agrees with science. That begs the question of why we need MM knowledge if we have to do science to see if it is correct.

  12. Years of casual conversations with people who consider “Western Science” inferior to the indigenous forms of “science” it forcibly displaced reveals a major bias which hinders their understanding of what makes science such a powerful method of explaining how and why things work: they value harmony over contention.

    On the side of the Other Ways of Knowing Science there are presumably wise and gentle people listening to what Nature tells them and handing this wisdom down through generations. They accept and learn from a culture which doesn’t divide the inner world of subject and feeling from the outer world of object and event. This harmonious whole allows their science to grow naturally and organically.

    Western Science, on the other hand, is a bunch of argumentative people telling each other that they’re wrong. They’re always trying to convince each other to abandon their own truths and accept a dominant one that’s “better.” Western Science tries to control Nature by explaining its mysteries away. Its aggression leads to divisions. It’s one long fist fight.

    It’s ironic then that, in the first system, human authority is everything and, in the second system, it’s knocked off its pedestal.

  13. Not to be too reductionist about it all, but it seems to me that all this hand-wringing and valorization of “indigenous” culture, knowledge and so on is just a 21st-century iteration of the ‘noble savage.’

    It’s guilt-driven, to a certain extent, but ultimately can be seen as based in sentiment and condescension.

    I noted here several months ago an encounter I had while writing a feature story for a university publication. I was interviewing two young women who had created an organization for female scientists.

    When one mentioned “other ways of knowing,” I asked what that meant. They tag-teamed and explained how, for example, scientists mucking about in a Central American jungle might learn some stuff, but that too often Western scientists ignore the locals, who have deep knowledge that could help the scientists, or even radically alter their understanding of their work and results.

    Puzzled, I offered a scenario: If an indigenous person in that jungle claimed the ability to predict the weather based on his or her “way of knowing” (which might be perfectly rational, i.e. different cloud formations, moisture in the air, etc.), that could, and should, be subjected to the rigors of the “Western” scientific method before it was accepted as fact.

    It was at that point that one of the women in particular began snarking at me that I was too of too pasty a complexion and too advanced in age to “get” what they were trying to say.

    To tell Maori people or any other that their ways of “knowing” are superior to the scientific method, even when their ways are demonstrated to be in error, is condescension, pure and simple.

    1. There’s probably the notion of independent discovery too – that both peoples should “get credit” for the discovery – not just “white colonizers”. Somehow.

  14. I put this post and the comments up on a big screen and sat back so the words were a little blurry but the punctuation still good out. The number of double quotation marks needed to write about these things is amazing.

    One could derive some kind of bullshit index for an idea like MM based on frequency with which one has to put phrases like “way of knowing” in quotes to clarify that it doesn’t mean what one would normally think it means. The BSI could be used to rank ideas like MM or intercessory prayer or astrology: “¿Quien Es Mas Macho?”

    Thanks to Jerry and others here for continuing to push back. I hope your ” key doesn’t wear out.

  15. As always, there is a simple reply to all the critics of “privileging Western science”. One need only suggest that any favored indigenous “way of knowing”, whether Maori, Tapirape, Blackfoot, Bella Coola, !Kung, or Samoyedic, be substituted for the privileged Western methodologies in the Dental School.

    1. Hello everyone.
      In reply to Steven Pollard’s kind feedback – indeed it is very easy to get into trouble in the real world – at least, here in New Zealand. In 2007 the heavens descended on me for having the temerity to publish a piece on climate change.

      The Minister of Research, Science and Technology and others (the Chief Executive and the President of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology) combined in an attempt to ruin my career. Nowadays, what happened there does not bother me and I take it all as a compliment.

      In fact, I tried to support Government policy in climate change and, for the life of me, I do not comprehend why I had to be punished that way.

      If interested, here is the offending article:

      David Lillis

      1. It is based on a focus group study is all I can see. They are merely making pronouncements – check the University of Auckland Psychology twitter account if you want to see how they’re selling this. They are right though, on one point that the benefits of te-reo for dementia are ”unknown” – it is all shrouded in mystery!!

    1. There are so many factors mixed up in that article and paper, supported by what amounts to gossip, that you’d be foolish to draw any conclusions. I believe there is some evidence from proper science that bilingualism may help against dementia, and it’s possible that being bilingual in English and Maori might help. But it is typical in NZ to claim that a benefit with any Maori connection is directly attributable to Maori wisdom – another example I saw recently was claiming that using flax mats developed for a completely different purpose to control algal growth in lakes was an example of matauranga Maori

  16. I’ve certainly got the impression that the term “matauranga Maori” is being extended to cover pretty much everything, especially since the fuss over the Listener letter quietened down. A recent definition I came across ( says this:

    “Mātauranga Māori is a modern term for the combined knowledge of Polynesian ancestors and the experiences of Māori living in the environment of Aotearoa. The term takes many forms, such as language (te reo), education (mātauranga), traditional environmental knowledge (taonga tuku iho, mātauranga o te taiao), traditional knowledge of cultural practice, such as healing and medicines (rongoā), fishing (hī ika) and cultivation (mahinga kai).”

    I’ve also seen an article entitled “Digital fluency and wellbeing through a Mātauranga Māori framework” – “This innovative programme weaves together te reo Māori, tikanga, Te Tiriti and e-sports.” – and another on the place of MM in physical education.

    @David Lillis, what could they possibly have objected to in your climate change article?

    1. Hi Jumbo Trudgeon.
      One’s crime is to say anything at all. Unfortunately, these experiences may also come down to personality politics. Following vicious private and public attacks, the husband of one of the female bullies (the husband I knew from our mutual participation on a scientific committee) confided in me that what happened was to some extent based on personal dislike. I remember his words a while later when he and I met for a coffee: “Unfortunately you can’t do anything if the top people don’t like you and she is a very judgmental person.”

      However, all the participants are known for bullying. Many others got it – not only myself.

      However, it’s in the past – but that experience, and observing others go though similar scenarios, has made me lose respect for authority and the processes in place that lead to the elevation of those kinds of people. It provided a partial motivation for speaking out against the shabby treatment of the seven Auckland University professors last year but my main motivation there was simply because what was being done to them was morally wrong and because both science and education were in real danger of being degraded – and still are. Thus:

      Nowadays, after enforced early retirement, I can speak out but I do so out of genuine intent to do just a little bit to make the world a better place. That means calling out and exposing bullying and playing my part (as others are doing); to defend science against intrusion of the non-scientific and to defend the integrity of education. Of course, there is a risk, but the risk is much lower for myself as a retiree than for others.

      I realize that the things I say are provocative and the introvert in me is uncomfortable going out on a limb. However, the philosopher, John Stuart Mill, delivered an inaugural address at the University of St. Andrews in 1867 and is supposed to have said:

      “Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”

      The above is quoted from:

      David Lillis

    2. @David Lillis, what could they possibly have objected to in your climate change article? – A good question – it reads like a comprehensive, balanced, and thoughtful analysis to me.

    3. The problem lies in speaking out rather than in what a person says. It’s a common experience these days that scientists and other experts are not permitted to articulate their views publicly. Instead, the managers and top executives claim that right – even those who know little or nothing about the science.

      Back in 2007 there was less unanimity on the seriousness of anthropogenic emissions and climate change than now, and there was a group of voluble sceptics in New Zealand. That’s why I wrote that paper over several weekends. My other agenda, as a member of Council of the New Zealand Association of Scientists, was to express support for Government climate change policy. It didn’t work! The article was not appreciated!

      Confidentially, I admit to worrying more right now about the dreadful global road toll (about 1.3 million deaths every year and many more injured) and the health issues of atmospheric pollution, though climate change poses a long term problem, bringing a variety of negative outcomes.


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