The Spectator asks why the Royal Society of NZ punishes scientists for defending science?

The international media have picked up the story of how the Royal Society of NZ has launched a modern version of the Spanish Inquisition. Toby Young writes in The Spectator:

But the moment this letter was published all hell broke loose. The views of the authors, who were all professors at Auckland, were denounced by the Royal Society, the New Zealand Association of Scientists, and the Tertiary Education Union, as well as by their own vice-chancellor, Dawn Freshwater. In a hand-wringing, cry-bullying email to all staff at the university, she said the letter had ‘caused considerable hurt and dismay among our staff, students and alumni’ and said it pointed to ‘major problems with some of our colleagues’.

Two of Professor Cooper’s academic colleagues, Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Dr Shaun Hendy, issued an ‘open letter’ condemning the heretics for causing ‘untold harm and hurt’. They invited anyone who agreed with them to add their names to the ‘open letter’, and more than 2,000 academics duly obliged. Before long, five members of the Royal Society had complained and a panel was set up to investigate.

The witch-finders disregarded several principles of natural justice in their prosecutorial zeal. For instance, two members of the three-person panel turned out to be signatories of the ‘open letter’ denouncing Professor Cooper so had to be replaced.

Witch-finders is a good name for them. And what does it say about the Royal Society that the majority of the panel they appointed were people who had already publicly decried the letter authors.

It’s not too late to save the professor. Letters from members of our own Royal Society, or any distinguished academics in the sciences and humanities, pointing out the absurdity of punishing a scientist for engaging in debate about the validity of science will help. You can email Roger Ridley, the chief executive. Remember, the only thing necessary for the triumph of intellectual intolerance is for believers in free speech to do nothing.

I understand a number of well known global scientists have indeed e-mailed in.

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