A Day in the Life

of the

Scientific Republic of Australia

A Christmas premonition by

John L. Daly

The Year -              2015 AD
The Place -            Launceston, in the Tasmanian Subdivision of the Scientific Republic of Australia
The Scene -           An ordinary family sharing breakfast on an ordinary workday, 25th December.
The Characters  -   Dad, Mum, and their only child Anna.

Dad (reading the news viewer) "I see the Prime Scientist is off on another trip to Europe again. Those backward people still believe in democracy! (laughs) It must be so frustrating for the P.S. to negotiate scientific treaties with them."
Mum "It could be worse Dear, he could be going to America (laughs). Now that everything here is decided by strict scientific method instead of those tiresome elections, life is so much more rational.  We have drugs for every disease (La Roche News, 2012), children receive free Skinner Conditioning at school (Skinner, 1963), murderers are now discouraged from acting so inappropriately (Supreme Scientific Court Hansard, 2005), religion has finally been banned, and the government is run on scientific principles by our top scientists and psychologists."
Dad "And don't forget the unsexing of all those people with a below-100 IQ. That really prevents degradation of the human species. We're so lucky for us both to have above-100 IQs, so we could have Anna, our one-child quota." (looks indulgently at Anna eating her breakfast cereal)
Anna "Can I have some more nutritious vitamin-enhanced breakfast cereal, Mum?"
Mum "Now Anna, you know that you should only have 50 grams per day. It's not good for your vitamin balance to have any more than that (Kellogg, 2011)"
Anna (indignant) "But according to Klein (2013), the psychological effects of denial can be more adverse than the detrimental effects of vitamin imbalance!"
Mum "Now dear, you have no scientific proof of that. Vitamin imbalance can cause behavioural effects as well (Schimmelgruber 2014)."
Anna "No they don't! (Picklmyer 2013, Henderson 2010)!"
Mum "Oh yes they do! (Smith 2013, La Blanche 2011, Burke 2011, Jones 2012)!"
Dad (sternly) "Now you two, that's really not very appropriate to talk like that. It's most unscientific to engage in bickering that way."
Mum (embarrassed) "Sorry dear, I forgot.   -    But I did cite more references!"
Dad (changing the subject) "Look, it says here in the News Viewer that the last of those subversive anti-science people has been sentenced by the Supreme Scientific Court to compulsory Skinner  re-programming"
Mum "Who is that dear?"
Dad "You know, that John Daly climate subversive who's been stirring up the non-scientific population against the Scientific Republic of Australia for years now (Lowe 1999, Wigley 2005)."
Mum (laughs) "Perhaps they should melt the anti-scientist's brain!" (Dad gasps at her unscientific outburst)
Anna (indignant) "Do you have a proper peer-reviewed reference for that remark, Mum?"
Mum (laughs again) "Er, no. But he is still an anti-scientist (Schneider 2001)."
Dad (patronising) "Now you know that reference was not properly peer reviewed, and was not published in a proper scientific journal, so it was a very unscientific remark to make wasn't it?"
Mum (sullen) "OK. I'm sorry.  I'll try to be more scientific in future."
Dad "Whatever the scientists decide about Daly will be done strictly according to rigorous scientific method. He deserves no more or no less. He will be entitled to the best scientific assessment, given a fair trial by anonymous peer reviewers, and then re-programmed."
(silence. Anna thinking hard about something)
Anna "But what if Daly can't be re-programmed? What if he resists it and doesn't recant?"
Mum "Nonsense dear. People are only stimulus-response creatures (Pavlov 1904, Skinner 1950). All the scientists need to do is give the anti-scientist Daly the right stimulus to make him recant and correct his unscientific ways."
(Anna quietly thinking again)
Anna "Then why can't we make cats obey us with the right stimulus?"
Dad "That's because cats are independent creatures, Anna."
Anna "But they are still animals like us. They should, logically, be programmable by stimulus-response methods like us."
Dad (sternly) "Anna! You know logic has been banned as unscientific (Mann, 2012). Only proper scientific method matters now, you know - control groups, double-blind trials, rigorous testing of hypotheses. You should know all that from school."
(Anna looking sullen but unrepentant)
Anna (defiantly) "Then why can't we make cats obey us? I've tried to train our cat scientifically, and it just does what it wants anyway."
(another awkward silence)
Mum "Perhaps cats are too stupid to understand the stimulus we give them?"
Dad "Yes, I agree, cats must have too low an animal IQ to understand."
Anna "Then perhaps Daly won't understand the stimulus the re-programmers will give him either?"
Dad "But he must respond to it!  Why, if so much as one human being failed to act in the established stimulus-response manner (Skinner 1962), then the consequences wouldn't bear thinking about! Why, it would mean that our behaviour would not be scientifically predictable after all. It would mean we all had free will instead of responding to the external stimulus we are given. It would mean (gasp!) unscientific chaos!"
Mum (shocked) "Shhh, dear, the neighbours might hear you. You don't want a visit from the Scientific Police do you? They're so strict these days."
Anna "Why shouldn't Dad, or any of us, say just what we please anyway?"
Mum "Of course we can all say what we please. It's just that we must be rigorously scientific in everything we say. It's so unhelpful if we are not scientific (Van Meer, 2009)."
Anna "Can we speak out against science, but be scientific about it as we do so?"
Mum "Er, I don't think so. To talk against science is, by definition, unscientific. Everyone knows that since science is itself the only source of genuine knowledge, then to argue against it must by definition be incorrect, and thereby unscientific." (smiles in satisfaction)
Anna "But that's a circular logical argument, not a scientific one! Can you cite any references to say that it's unscientific to speak against science, or cite any double-blind trials, or even a paper in a peer-reviewed journal. You have argued on logical grounds only - and that's illegal!"
Mum (blushing with embarrassment) "Anna, you're just getting me confused! I wasn't being logical, really I wasn't!"
Anna "Well for what it's worth, I've had it up to here with all the Skinner Conditioning at school (Mum and Dad gasp in horror), and I think science and Skinnerism sucks!"
Dad "You go to your room right now! " (he reaches into her bag and finds an old book, sternly holding it up) "And what's this you're hiding?"
Anna "It's a book."
Dad "I can see it's a book! I want to know what you're doing with a book! You know they are banned as it's not possible to regulate who reads them and that all books must be burned by the Scientific Police!  We are only permitted to read the News Viewer or peer-reviewed journals. Did you get this from a book pusher at school?!   That Daly criminal was a book pusher amongst his other crimes against science."
Anna (now throwing a loud tantrum) "Well all the kids at school are doing books!  It's better than this endless science crap. Books give you a high. Science is dull, it's grey, it's boring, and it suffocates us kids. But books? They're a real blast - not a page of Skinnerism in any of them! And they're so ... cool! All about magic and love and kings and princesses and politics and ..."
Dad (looking at the book cover) "This is pornography! (Whitehouse, 1975)".
Anna "No it isn't! (Wolfenden 1971)."
Mum (looking anxious) "What book is it anyway?"
Dad "It's that subversive pseudo-romantic diatribe `Romeo and Juliet' by the criminal anti-scientist William Shakespeare."
(conversation interrupted by a loud crashing noise and the abrupt entrance of the Scientific Police)

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