Mr. Gove, Einstein and Democracy

Posted by ngi2 at Jun 24, 2016 12:55 PM |
Professor Ali al-Nowaihi from the Department of Economics explains why he thinks future referenda needs more legislation

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On Wednesday, 22 June, 2016, the day before the referendum on whether Britain should remain in or exit from the European Union, the Telegraph reported:

"Michael Gove compares experts warning against Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein's work"

I will argue that this is a most serious incident and I suggest that in future referenda commentators should respect the same standards required for commenting on trials.

First, and importantly, let us understand the nature of the book that Mr. Gove alludes to. The title of this 104 page book was Hundert Autoren Gegen Einstein (One Hundred Authors Against Einstein) by Hans Israel, Erich Ruckhaber, Rudolf Weinmann and published in 1931. Contrary to what Mr. Gove claims, this book contained no anti-Semitic material and was not written by agents in the pay of the Nazi government (the Nazis came into power later, in 1933). Some were anti-Semitic and some, later, served in the Nazi government. However, the book was merely a collection of shoddy pieces of work by people who did not understand relativity. At the time, it was recognised as just that and it certainly did not represent the consensus of the physicists of that time.

So, Mr. Gove, the Chair of the pro-exit campaign, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice, responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts, likens the leading British and World institutions and economists, including The Bank of England, The Treasury, The International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, The Confederation of British Industry, the trade unions, 178 of the world's leading economists, including 12 Nobel Prize winners, Mr. Gove likens them to 100 Nazi agents (who actually never existed) paid by the Nazi government to smear Einstein’s work.

This is bizarre, and would be amusing, except that it could have affected a historic referendum whose outcome will have profound effects on the future of Britain, Europe and the world.

Far less indiscretions have rendered trials, of far less significance, null and void.

Time to introduce legislation that governs the conduct of and comment on referenda that are of the same standard of rigour that govern the conduct of and comment on trials.

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