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Triggers and Causes in Feminist Pseudo-science (seven times updated)

Peter Zohrab 2019

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Letter to the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor

 

Initial Reply from the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor

 

Substantive Reply from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

 

Letter to Prime Minister

Second Reply from Prime Minister

Second Letter to Prime Minister

Third Reply from Prime Minister

Fourth Reply from Prime Minister

Email to Prime Minister

 

 

(Open Letter to the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor)

 

12 May 2019

 

Dear Professor Gerrard,

Under the Official Information Act, could you please answer the following questions, which relate to the Philosophy of Science in relation to one particular issue:

  1. Do you have any information that there is a generally accepted distinction in Science between a “trigger” and a “cause” of a specific event?

  2. If so, what scientific disciplines employ this distinction and what references can you point me to so that I can learn more about this?

  3. Where the term “trigger” is used to mean “immediate cause” and the term “cause” is used to mean “underlying cause”, is it scientifically legitimate to claim that certain constructs are underlying causes, without ever providing evidence that they have any causal role whatsoever? The point is that the triggers can presumably be proved to be causal factors on their own, but some people may like to claim that the assumed underlying causes also play a causal role.

I have studied a wide range of subjects at the tertiary level, including Science and the Philosophy of Science and the above questions – in case you have not already guessed – relate to the Feminist “Power and Control” theory of Family Violence.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Zohrab

 

I received the following initial reply:

 

Kia ora,

On behalf of the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor, thank you for your request under the Official Information Act 1982 which was received on 12th May 2019, copied below.

Your request has been forwarded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, who handles all our Official Information Act requests. A response will be provided in accordance with the Act (please see the Office of the Ombudsman Website for more details - http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/ ).

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) may publish the response to your Official Information Act (OIA) request.

When you are provided with a response to this request, you will be informed about whether the response to your OIA request will be published. If DPMC does publish the response to your OIA request, personal information, including your name and contact details, will be removed.

Yours,

Ben Jeffares

 

In due course, I also received the substantive reply below:

 

 

I later responded as follows:

 

17 August 2019

Right Honourable Prime Minister
Jacinda Ardern
Parliament House
Wellington

Your ref.: CSA OIA 19-0D4

Dear Jacinda Ardern

I am writing in response to your office’s letter dated 6 June 2019.

Thank you for confirming that you have no information on the matters which I asked about.

That would normally be the end of the matter, but I would like to respond to your statement that my questions:

…are not requests for official information in accordance with the Act.

I do not regard that as an honest statement of your true belief, because:

  1. you did not provide any evidence, such as referring to the relevant subsection of the Official Information Act 1982; and

  2. you did, in fact, respond to my request as if you did consider it to be a request for official information in accordance with the Act.

I have a Law degree and I have reread the Interpretation section of the Act. I consider your above statement to be without foundation.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Zohrab

 

In due course, I received the following reply:

 

Letter from Prime Minister of 16 September 2019 p.1
Letter from Prime Minister of 16 September 2019 p.2

 

On 5 October 2019, I replied as follows:

 

 

Dear Jacinda Ardern,

 

I am writing in response to your office’s letter dated 16 September 2019.

  1. Under the Official Information Act, given that you have a “Chief Science Advisor,” could you please tell me:

    What is your official definition of “science”?

     

  2. Please note that that is a question, although I will now clarify the context by making a statement.

    You claimed that the third question in my correspondence of 12 May 2019 was in fact a statement. My third question read as follows:

    ‘Where the term “trigger” is used to mean “immediate cause” and the term “cause” is used to mean “underlying cause”, is it scientifically legitimate to claim that certain constructs are underlying causes, without ever providing evidence that they have any causal role whatsoever? The point is that the triggers can presumably be proved to be causal factors on their own, but some people may like to claim that the assumed underlying causes also play a causal role.’

    The first sentence ends in a question mark and contains the word-order “is it”, which is clearly that of a question. Therefore, your claim that that was a statement, rather than a question, is a pure lie.

  3. Under the Official Information Act, given that you have a “Chief Science Advisor,” could you please tell me:

    Is “science,” according to your official definition of it, compatible with claiming that certain constructs are underlying causes, without ever providing evidence that they have any causal role whatsoever?

 

In due course, I received the following reply (I have scanned one of the pages at a slightly smaller size than the others, but I don't think that matters):

 

Letter from Prime Minister 14.10.19, page 1
Letter from Prime Minister 14.10.19, page 2
Letter from Prime Minister 14.10.19, page 3
Letter from Prime Minister 14.10.19, page 4

 

Later, for some reason, I received a further reply, as follows:

 

 

Then I replied as follows:

 

Dear Prime Minister,

 

Thank you for your reply dated 30 October 2019.

In it, you repeated your (office's) previous claim that my official information request was not actually asking for official information. I reject that as an apparent attempt to pave the way for future refusals to reply to requests for official information.

Your latest letter contained the following statement:

"[t]he PMCSA advises the Prime Minister on scientific evidence in its broadest sense...".

That statement clearly constitutes official information. It is neither:

  1. a view; nor

  2. an opinion; nor

  3. information created for the purpose of answering my question.

It is information which tells me the basis on which your Chief Science Adviser works and answers the first of my two questions, as repeated below and tells me (by implication) that your answer to my second question is likely to be vaguely related to the word "yes".

  1. What is your official definition of “science”?

  2. ‘Where the term “trigger” is used to mean “immediate cause” and the term “cause” is used to mean “underlying cause”, is it scientifically legitimate to claim that certain constructs are underlying causes, without ever providing evidence that they have any causal role whatsoever? The point is that the triggers can presumably be proved to be causal factors on their own, but some people may like to claim that the assumed underlying causes also play a causal role.’

I hope this is not too complicated for you to understand. You should be equipped with intelligent advisers -- although that is perhaps incompatible with them being Feminist, as required.

 

Yours sincerely,

Peter Zohrab

 

 

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4 November 2019

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