Harper's changes to the census are an attack on science

Steven Harper's ultracon, intelligence-free government is at it again.  Der Führer von Kanada and his cronies have decided to drop t...

Steven Harper's ultracon, intelligence-free government is at it again.  Der Führer von Kanada and his cronies have decided to drop the mandatory long census form that was distributed to one in five households, in favour of a different - and relatively useless - optional long form to be distributed to more people.  Besides the increased environmental impact ("optional" only means that more of them will end up unused in the trash), it undermines the information-gathering that is absolutely fundamental to plan for Canada's future. (Updated 21 July 2010.)

Information from the long form is used by hospitals, businesses, schools, NGOs, public transit organizations, and a legion of other organizations to understand the nature of the Canadian population.  If you don't understand your clients/customers/users, then how are you supposed to provide them with goods and services that benefit them?

The short form, which goes to four out of five households, is primarily used to determine federal transfer payments to the provinces; it's not much more than a head-count, and lacks the detail to be useful for planning and research.

Harper's lap-dog, Tony Clement, suggested the original long form was intrusive and violated privacy.  However, there is not one single instance of Statistics Canada violating anyone's privacy.  Ever.  And privacy is, in any case, hugely overrated - but that's another story.  Indeed, not one of Clement's arguments supporting the change makes any sense; I won't repeat them here - you can find them easily enough via Google.  I've yet to find an expert - academic, governmental, or otherwise - who thinks the new long form is a good idea.

The elimination of the long form is, in the end, an attack on science.  All of the benefits that the census data accrue are based on scientific work: the statistical analyses, the planning exercises, the modelling of resources to better predict our future needs, the delivery of accurate data for educational purposes - all these things and more work because they are grounded in science.  If it weren't for science, and science alone (well, science and math), then none of this stuff would be going on, and we'd still be clubbing our dinner to death, wearing bearskins, and dying young of diseases that are innocuous to us today.  And it's these experts that are the ones denouncing Harper's megalomania on this matter.  These are the people who are unequivocally the best people to decide what exactly should go into the census; if they're against it, then who are we (yes, I'm including myself) to argue?  Since when were experts to be treated with such disrespect?  Do we really want to live in a society where complex and important decisions are made by non-experts?  I certainly don't.

Harper doesn't like people knowing things.  He, like so many other despots, prefers to keep his subjects as ignorant as possible because ignorant people are more easily manipulated and therefore more easily controlled.  And experts don't matter to Harper, because experts are his enemy.  He doesn't want people telling him he's wrong, even if he really is wrong.  He just wants his way.

I really wish the election process in Canada included a way of voting against someone and not just for someone; if it did, I would not only vote for someone - anyone - other than a conservative, and I'd also vote with great passion and pressing that pencil down as hard as I can, against Stephen Harper, the Great Canadian Idiot.

If you're as pissed off about this as I am, then do something: complain, sign a petition, join a facebook group, tell your friends and neighbours, mail your MP and the PMO. Do something.  Cuz if you don't, then you're just helping the Marching Morons win.

UPDATE

Here's some links to other related resources:
Also, the head of Statistics Canada has resigned over this matter.

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The Trouble with Normal...: Harper's changes to the census are an attack on science
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The Trouble with Normal...
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