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Irish science minister nearly supports anti-evolution book

To be sure, it was a bad decision that Irish science minister Conor Lenihan made when he agreed to launch an antievolution book.


Appalled Irish scientists were swift to respond when the news broke yesterday that the Fianna Fáil politician, who picked up the science portfolio in April last year, was due to present The Origin of Specious Nonsense in Dublin tomorrow (15th September). The book’s website refers to the launch event as the ‘Gorillas and Girls Party’.

The situation was resolved within 24 hours – curiously by the author himself, John May, who ‘disinvited’ the minister from the launch. He told the Irish Times and other news outlets that he was embarrassed by the insults that Lenihan had received on a blogsite and by email.

Lenihan accepted the disinvitation. But the message he gave to the Irish Times about his views on evolution was ambiguous – he ‘remained to be convinced’ by May’s arguments, but believes that ‘diversity of opinion is a good thing’. Lenihan has no scientific qualifications, and apparently no good source of science advice.


  1. Report this comment

    Hemant said:

    I think we should not overreact to this news as it will just give popularity to ‘Teach the controversy’ group. Simple criticism as ‘When evolution is a fact (same as the fact that earth revolves around the sun), this book seems to be highly non-scientific’ will do.

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    Stephen Cass said:

    Could we leave off the stereotypical attempt at cleverness by opening this otherwise perfectly reasonable story with “To be sure”? The decisions of the minister are a serious issue, but your opening choice of stage-Irish words comes across as patronizing, and belittles the situation. Consider what your impression would be if, whenever my fellow American science journalists discussed a U.K issue, they felt obliged to open with “Evenin’ Guv’nor!” or some such similar codswallop.

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    Robert Stovold said:

    With regards to Nature’s “stereotypical attempt at cleverness”, it could have been worse. “Did you hear the one about the Irish science minister?” springs to mind. Thankfully, proper Irish scientists were swift to counter this nonsense.

    In all probability, such an event could have happened in any country, and should serve as a wake-up call to us all. Creationism is not yet extinct.

  4. Report this comment

    Cantab1 said:

    I am surprised that this article has not been edited and an apology issued by now – 24 hours after posting this depressing, lazy use of cultural stereotyping. It makes it difficult for Nature to position itself as a bastion of rationality when their staff generate this garbage. Perhaps the Irish Times science journalists would like to comment on this piece?

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    Lennon said:

    Not surprised with Connor Lennihan. This is indicative of the general lack of competence within this government, it is not just science where they are totally at sea.

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    enthalpy666 said:

    The tone of this article is appalling. Particularly the opening line ‘To be sure’. Does the editor really deem it appropriate to use such steriotypical nonsense? Would Nature dare to use such steroetyping in relation to any other ethnic group? Why then is this ok when it comes to the Irish?

    While I appreciate that the approach of the Irish education minister is worrying, I wonder would you take such a tone in addressing other disturbing facts such as the number of US senators who disregard evolution.

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