If you're having trouble viewing this message, open it in a browser window.

This issue: Following the Science?

“Following the science” has been the mantra of public officials from the very beginning of the pandemic. Their acknowledgement of the importance of science has been a refreshing change from the usual attitude of so many political leaders, who all too often regard science, and scientists, as an annoyance or a threat. Stephen Harper in particular carried on a vendetta against scientists who were guilty of the crime of doing research that revealed how his government’s policies were harming the environment. Under Harper, government scientists were muzzled, funding for inconvenient research was drastically curtailed, and research libraries were physically destroyed. Compared to what went on under the Harper regime, present-day politicians who proclaim respect for science and declare their commitment to following it, look good.

But what does “following the science” actually mean? When we as a society are faced with difficult policy choices, can science tell us what choices we should make? We should be sceptical of anyone who says that it can, because that isn’t actually what science does. It can certainly provide information we need to take into account when making choices and trade-offs, but choices don’t automatically follow from science.

Nor is it accurate to refer to “the science.” Science is a method for understanding the world. It involves asking fruitful questions, gathering information, and coming up with tentative answers and conclusions which are then subject to further examination and re-evaluation by other scientists. Often enough, it turns out that the initial question wasn’t even the right question. Even so, that can be a useful realization if it leads to formulating different questions. There are always more questions than answers; indeed, each answer inevitably raises a series of new questions. As Einstein said, “As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.”

Continue reading

As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends.

You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices home page on the Connexions website at

Please consider sharing it via social media.

If you'd like to subscribe and receive this newsletter by email, please send an email to mailroom@connexions.org with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject line.

Your feedback is appreciated - and so are donations to keep us doing what we're doing!

Support Connexions and help change the world! Make a one-time or monthly donation to help us continue to connect you with issues you care about.

This Week on Connexions.org

Net zero is not real zero poster

We demand real zero, not net zero!

Net zero emissions and other false solutions allow polluters to continue polluting, and lock in destructive extractive industries, says this statement adopted in October by the Oilwatch International Global Gathering in Nigeria.

Read more

Keywords: Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Fossil Fuels

Ecosocialism not extinction banner image

Ecosocialism Not Extinction!

Ecosocialist Alliance statement on the opening of UN climate talks in Glasgow
As ecosocialists we say another world is possible, but a massive social and political transformation is needed, requiring the mobilization of the mass of working people across the globe. Only the end of capitalism’s relentless pursuit of private profit, endless waste, and rapacious drive for growth, can provide the solution not only to climate change, environmental degradation, and mass extinction, but to global poverty, hunger, and hyper exploitation. Capitalism can at best mitigate climate change, not stop it. Genuine climate solutions cannot be based on the very market system that created the problem.

Read more

Keywords: Ecosocialism - Marxism and Ecology

Surveillance Cameras

Public health or private wealth? How digital vaccine passports pave way for unprecedented surveillance capitalism

Mega-corporations, international finance institutions, and billionaire-backed private foundations have played a vital role in lobbying for and implementing digital immunity passports. The burgeoning global health passport system has been coordinated under the umbrella of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO). However, this institution is so intertwined with wealthy private interests it can hardly be characterized as a “public” health body.

Read more

Keywords: Privacy Rights - Surveillance Systems

Vinay Prasad

5 Errors Made by Public Health/ Science During The Pandemic

Vinay Prasad outlines what he believes are five errors made by public health authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prasad believes that we need more funding for public health, but he also believes that public health bodies need to do a better job, for starters, by admitting uncertainty when there is uncertainty. If you don’t admit uncertainty, he says, you won’t embark on research that could reduce uncertainty.


Keywords: Public Health - Science

Raven on a log

The intelligence of ravens and the foolishness of (some) humans

What are researchers really doing when they think they are testing the intelligence of ravens – or of humans? How credible is it to think that animals can be ranked in intelligence according to how they perform on tests designed by humans? For that matter, how believable is it that intelligence is a single quantity, a thing that can be measured and quantified?

Read more

Keywords: Intelligence - Pseudoscience


Topic of the Week

Science Ethics
Science helps us to understand – and change – the world. The questions that science asks, and the knowledge it provides, cannot tell us how to apply that knowledge, nor indeed whether we should. Those decisions require ethical judgments and policy decisions. The Connexions subject index is a gateway to a range of resources on Science and Ethics.

The Connexions subject index is a gateway to a range of resources on Science and Ethics.

Julian Assange

Political Prisoners

In prisons around the world...
In prisons around the world, there are prisoners whose ‘crimes’ consisted of criticizing those in power, or of exposing the crimes of those in power. Britain, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United States ... the list of countries is endless.

For those of us who live in Canada, we have a special responsibility to condemn the human rights abuses of our partners-in-crime: the United States and its Anglosphere client states: Britain, Australia, and Canada. Here are a few instances:

Steven Donziger, lawyer who fought Chevron,

Find out more

Craig Murray's jailing is the latest move in a battle to snuff out independent journalism

Find out more

Papers Instead of Human Lives: The Sentencing of Daniel Hale
Daniel Hale has been sentenced to 45 months in jail for telling the truth about the U.S. program of drone assassinations.

Find out more

Leonard Peltier – in prison since 1976
Leonard Peltier was extradited from Canada to the U.S. in December 1976 according to ‘the rule of law’ and on the basis of what Canada’s Solicitor General later admitted was false evidence submitted by the U.S. authorities.

He was found guilty in the deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation. Several key witnesses in the trail subsequently recanted their testimony, saying they had been coerced into lying at the trail. Nevertheless, Peltier has remained in prison for the past 45 years.

Find out more

A Day in the Death of British Justice
John Pilger writes: “The pursuit of Julian Assange for revealing secrets and lies of governments, especially the crimes of America, has entered its final stage as the British judiciary - upholders of 'British justice' - merge their deliberations with the undeterred power of Washington.

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela's, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA's Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the US against its own citizen, Assange. “

Read more

Keywords: Legal Systems as Instruments of Oppression - Political Prisoners

Oil watch logo

Website of the Week


Oilwatch is a network of resistance to the impacts of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) industries on people’s and their environments. Oilwatch aims to stop the expansion of fossil fuel activities that are degrading to the environment. Oilwatch was created in 1996 in Quito, Ecuador with the presence of 15 organizations from the following countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. Now, the network has members in over fifty countries around the world.

Find them here

Keywords: Fossil Fuels - Fossil Fuel Alternatives

Book cover for Big Farms Make Big Flu

Book of the Week

Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science

In this book, written four years before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rob Wallace describes how industrial agriculture, controlled by industrial corporations, packs poultry and other animals together in megabarns which are perfect environments for producing and spreading deadly pathogens. There are alternatives, Wallace says, but corporate agriculture, heavily subsidized by governments, stands in the way of their widespread adoption.

Read more

Keywords: Factory Farming - Industrial Agriculture

Movie poster for  The Coming War on China

Film of the Week

The Coming War on China

When the United States, the world’s biggest military power, decided that China, the second largest economic power, was a threat to its imperial dominance, two-thirds of US naval forces were transferred to Asia and the Pacific. This was the ‘pivot to Asia', first announced by President Barack Obama in 2011, and continued under Presidents Trump and Biden. In this documentary, John Pilger investigates the manufacture of a ‘threat’ and the increasingly real danger of a catastrophic nuclear confrontation.

Watch here

Keywords: China - Militarism

pipeline on fire

Should we blow up pipelines?

In this review essay on Andreas Malm’s book “How to Blow Up a Pipleline” Lars Henriksson argues that the choice between well-behaved protests and sabotage is incorrectly posed. It is crucial to remember, says Henriksson, that “If we are to have any prospect of winning and not just fighting heroically, the climate movement needs to be a popular movement of a kind rarely seen.”

Read more

Keywords: Activism/Organizing - Environmental Advocacy

Book Cover Kill Anything that Moves

People's History

The Names You'll Never Know

Americans have been killing civilians since before there was a United States. At home and abroad, civilians -- Pequots, African Americans, Cheyenne and Arapaho, Filipinos, Haitians, Japanese, Germans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, and Somalis, among others -- have been shot, burned, and bombed to death. Just in the last 20 years, the U.S. has killed an estimated 387,000 civilians. The U.S. builds memorials to its own soldiers, but those it kills remain unknown. The celebrated Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington is 400 feet long. If there were to be a similar memorial for the Vietnamese killed by the Americans in that war, that wall would have to be 9 miles long.

Read more

Keywords: U.S. Imperialism - War

Shelves filled with archival materials

From the Archives

Library and Archives Canada service cuts hindering research, historians say

Library and Archives Canada sees itself – and is – central to Canada’s history and to the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums sector. But hours of service have been drastically reduced. It is now almost impossible for researchers outside of Ottawa to book time in the archival reading rooms. “Surely,” says the Canadian Historical Association, “if galleries, museums and libraries across the country can open their doors, so too can Library and Archives Canada.”

Read more

Keywords: Canadian History - Libraries/Archives

Quote of the week: Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. -  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Your support is needed to keep Connexions going

All of the work of the Connexions project is done by volunteers, but our expenses include rent, phone and computer costs and technical support, as well as expenses related to our ongoing project of converting printed archival materials into digital formats. You can make a one time or regular monthly contribution through the donate page on the Connexions website.


Many of us have made working for social justice a lifetime commitment. If you are thinking about leaving a legacy for social justice that will live on, you might want to consider leaving a bequest to Connexions in your will. If you'd like to discuss this option, please contact us: Connexions Archive and Library, 95 St. Joseph St., Suite 104, Toronto, ON M5S 3C2, 416-988-9586 or see the Bequest page.

Copyright Connexions 2021. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. This means you are welcome to share and republish the contents of this newsletter as long as you credit Connexions, and as long as you don’t charge for the content.

Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here

This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.

Connexions Archive & Library
95 St. Joseph St., Suite 104, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3C2

Phone: 416-988-9586
Email: mailroom@connexions.org


Enjoy this issue of Other Voices? Want to share with friends and family? Then we encourage you to share this link.

All issues of Other Voices are available on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm

Unsubscribe from this mailing list