WHILE trying to make intelligent comment on road safety, it’s interesting how poorly reasoned the police and politicians can be (‘Buckling up but failing to slow down’, Herald, 19/4). While noting that major crashes were down by 75 per cent, the police lamented the number of speeding fines issued over the Easter holidays. A reasonable conclusion might be that the speeding for which they’re fining motorists may have more to do with raising revenue than road safety. Might the limits in some places be so inappropriate that they make good catch places for the police?
If as many people are criminal as are suggested by the level of traffic fines, we have a very dodgy populace, which I think is not the case. Intelligent appeals for safer driving go over better than dopey phrases like ‘Operation Tortoise’. If we all went that slowly, we’d all still be out there, going to sleep at the wheel. When they gleefully pass on to the media instances of drivers and riders being caught at high speeds, it doesn’t seem to dawn on them that high speed doesn’t kill. It’s stopping that does it.
Will Hagon, Bellbird
AS usual it's the unvaccinated who are vilified by the Health Minister, but as yet the vaccine status of each of the cases hasn't been reported (‘Warning on vaccinations as measles outbreak worsens’, Herald, 19/4).
How did measles go from being a normal childhood illness which strengthened overall immunity when treated properly, not feared in our society, to now be creating so much hysteria in the government? One of the often-ignored facts of these outbreaks is that the highest number of cases is usually represented by vaccinated people.
Instead of spitting bile at those who make the choice to not vaccinate, maybe it would be better to test everyone coming in from countries that have measles.
Sharon Bailey, New Lambton
Perfect spot for enterprise
AUSTRALIA is to get an Amazon distribution centre. The state governments of NSW, Victoria and Queensland no doubt will be planning how to attract this business to their capitals. But wait a minute – NSW has the advantage of a perfect regional centre to locate Amazon's enterprise. Of course it is Newcastle/Port Stephens with road, rail, port and airport coming together with a good deal of available and affordable land right where it's needed and scope to expand. We have an excellent case to make. Are our NSW government working on this additional business case? I hope so, but who knows.
Luke Taper, Georgetown
Ethics and IQ
NEITHER Ron Gibbins (Letters, 18/4) nor Peter Dolan (Letters, 17/4) appear to understand the concept and research involved in ethics classes. Classes provide an opportunity for students to test, by discussion, the evidence supporting their own views on an open-ended question against the evidence used by others to support a different view. A trial was conducted at Clackmannanshire in Scotland and the report is available in Australia among the documents in the files of Online Opinion. Search using Clackmannanshire. I have an electronic copy.
Students aged 11-12 in different classes discussed such questions and a similar match group were used as a control. At the start each group has an identical IQ reading. After about 50 hours of otherwise identical education, the IQ of the students subject to discussion improved by six points, whereas there was no change in the control group. Follow up testing after three years showed the gain had been more than maintained.
If you would like your child to be intellectually stimulated you should abandon SRE and make sure that ethics classes are available at your local school. There is an impediment. Your school is not allowed to advise you that ethics classes are an option until you have opted your child out of SRE. That rule is in place courtesy of Fred Nile MLC. Does that seem ethical?
John Turner, Carey Bay
Believers have reason
DON’T worry Anne Killen (Letters, 19/4). There are plenty of secular zealots in public schools, taking up more than the 30 minutes (not one hour) usually devoted to SRE. And if Noah’s Ark is the most subversive thing children learn about I would be very surprised. As for Galileo, he remained a faithful Catholic all his life. His mistake was teaching the Earth orbiting the sun as certain fact, which in his time could not be demonstrated, rather than as a hypothesis. And he was wrong about the immobility of the sun.
Anne is right to say that a belief in something does not prove its existence, but it is also true that non-belief in something does not prove its non-existence. Anyhow, many people of faith claim reason to believe.
Peter Dolan, Lambton
Freedom from religion
PETER Dolan (Letters, 17/4) claims Education Minister Rob Stokes found no widespread evidence of problems in scripture in public schools. If that is true, maybe it is unsurprising because Minister Stokes has a diploma in bible studies from Ministry Training College at Oxford Falls (a Pentecostal organisation), and is thus likely to be supportive of the present situation where students have to opt out of scripture, rather than opt in. Peter also implies that I am a secular zealot – one who is carried away by excessive zeal for my claim that there is no place for religious zealots in public schools. Being aware of some of the nonsense that religious zealots preach, I make no apology for my claim that scripture in today’s public schools is an anachronism.
My position as a secularist is that in Australia at least, there should be freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion. If parents want their children to receive religious indoctrination as an integral part of their schooling, then they should enrol them in one of the many religious schools. But our nation’s secular public schools should teach evidence-based curricula exclusively.
Kevin McDonald, Balickera
Praise for top care
I WANT to congratulate the staff of the John Hunter Hospital for their professionalism and the degree of care and compassion they showed to my wife. Sometimes we hear criticism being leveled at this great institution for minor inconveniences suffered by a few. I was greatly impressed by the tasks performed and the number of patients benefiting from a wonderful team of nurses, doctors and administrative staff.