Aug 8, 2014

Rundle: Abetz and the sleazy switch from moral campaign to scientific irrationalism

Eric Abetz says there is a demonstrated link between abortion and breast cancer (he now says he didn't, despite it airing on national television). Won't anyone stand up for science anymore?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Good god, government watching these days is turning into an Augean stables-type gig. No sooner have we had the unveiling of Team Australia, the call to suspend debate and dissent, the co-option of the dead, the 40 jobs a month farrago, than we now have Senator Eric Abetz reviving that most discredited of charges: the spurious, discredited and mendacious suggestion of a link between abortion and breast cancer.


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48 thoughts on “Rundle: Abetz and the sleazy switch from moral campaign to scientific irrationalism

  1. klewso

    I’ve heard that believing what Limited News tells you leads to levophobia?

  2. Electric Lardyland

    Yes, and in Bravenewtonyworld, there is no correlation between what I said and what I said. And anybody who says that there is, is not a member of Team Australia.

  3. Shaun Cunniffe

    I agree, Abetz can be a bit of a clown, however, in this case he is being mis-reported.

    I note that you don’t give the details of the conversation in which you alledge he said he believes the link between abortion and breast cancer. According to the ABC it went …

    Freedman: “What about the fact that one of the speakers at this conference promotes the factually incorrect statement that abortion leads to breast cancer. Do you believe that?”

    Abetz: “I think the studies, and I think they date back from the 1950s, assert that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.”

    Freedman: “It is conclusively and scientifically incorrect in the same way that linking immunisations and autism are incorrect. So when this scientific non-information is being put out there, how can you be comfortable being part of something that promotes this non-science?”

    Abetz: “Well I don’t know what your scientific expertise is to be able to run that commentary, I must confess I don’t have that … ”
    Freedman: “It’s not me. It’s the Australian Medical Association.”

    Abetz: “Well there are other organisations that have differing views as some of these speakers are clinical professors … ”

    He is simply saying that some people who can be influential do believe it. He did not say he believed it. He didn’t deny it; he didn’t say it though.

    I agree with the AMA guy on Triple-J this morning who pointed out that the research is from the 1950’s and should be treated as such, because we have learnt a lot since then on this subject.

    Please don’t “Murdoch” Crikey by ranting on about what you think someone should or should not say or do, you’re a news service, not a religion.

  4. Tamas Calderwood

    “So stray or fleeting correlations can always be found, but if they do not show systemic or repeatable effects, they offer literally nothing by way of describing a real-world process.”

    Say… like our CO2 emissions and global warming? Record emissions and no sign of any systematic or repeatable effect on the world’s temperature for the past 15 years.

    Is it irrationalist and anti-science to point out that the temperature data simply don’t fit with the global warming hypothesis?

  5. JohnB

    “Whether someone like Abetz knows he is even doing this is doubtful.”

    Is anything that Eric Abetz “knows” not doubtful?

    Name one example. This miserable excuse of a Federal Minister has set a new low, far below the achievements of those who he criticises.

    The Libs will need to replace more than a few of their current crew if they wish to retain office in a couple of years’ time. Since they seem to have difficulty managing their own preselections, here are a few for starters.

    Eric Abetz
    Tony Abbott, for obvious reasons,
    Warren Truss,
    Christopher Pyne,
    Julie Bishop, who the Chinese refer to as “the fool”,
    Bronwyn Bishop, who deserves Julie’s nickname,
    Phil Ruddock,
    Greg Hunt, the environmental vandal,
    Scott Morrisson, the Minister for Cruelty to Refugees,
    Mathias Cormann,
    Andrew Robb,
    Ian McFarlane,
    Kevin Andrews, another outright religious nutter.

    Who’d want any one of this baker’s dozen as a neighbour, let alone as their parliamentary representative?

  6. Sir Leigh Curmudgeon

    Good lord Guy, we all know that old Betsy is a ninny but we of the old school have to win our arguments somehow. The ladies should just do as they are told as they did in the good old days of yore.

  7. Steven Grant Haby


    You left out Dopey Dutton as well.


  8. michael dwyer

    For some strange reason the Brind research does not appear to cover women with miscarriages, who seriously outnumber those with induced abortions. Is breast cancer rare amongst virgins?

  9. David Camfield

    It takes 10 years to get a PhD, and another 10 years to establish a respected scientific career for a reason.

    This government is a massive insult to every scientist in Australia.

  10. Guy Rundle

    Tamas! You’re back!

    The Co2/temperature isn’t fleeting or stray. It’s the exact opposite of such. The two graphs match each so tightly that the only way to falsify AGW is to find a better explanation for this correlation and causality. It’s the minor variation in warming that you guys like to cite, that is the stray data, amplified by applying a limited time frame

    As well you know.

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