The Sabotage of Science: Why, How and What Can be Done

Today there is a continuous attack on Science. Record numbers of people are contracting measles, due almost exclusively to the anti-vaccination movement. A disbelief in both Climate Change itself, its origins and its eventual outcomes, has become a political movement with an almost religious fervour. We are spending billions of dollars annually in the pursuit of therapies with no evidence of benefit and no description of harm. Believers in the “flat earth” theory are growing daily and even water deviners avoid the dole queue.

 Social media is spreading untruths about science, these are being touted by mainstream media moguls who are seeing profit in disseminating false information on scientific consensus through their news outlets. Alternative news outlets are growing rapidly and many of these are fuelled by conspiracy stories and anti-science narratives.

This talk will explore some of the more insidious examples of anti-Science. It will attempt to explain why this is happening and, hopefully will give some ways forward to combat this malaise.


Simon Foote is a medical graduate from Melbourne University. He practiced medicine until 1989, after which he completed his PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 1989 in the genetics of malarial drug resistance. He spent 5 years at the Whitehead Institute at MIT studying the human genome. Upon his return to Australia he was first a laboratory head, then joint head of the Genetics and Bioinformatics division with Terry Speed at the WEHI. With John Mattick, he set up the Australian Genome Research Facility in 1997. He became director of the Menzies Research Institute, Tasmania in 2005, Dean of the Medical School at Macquarie University in 2012 and Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU in 2014.

Simon will be retiring in 2019, and this will be his last lecture as Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research.