The adventure of Science: Tom Gordon, Candidate for Watson

My name is Tom Gordon, I’m running in this federal election for the Science Party because there is a vacuum of representation for science and scientific thinking in parliament. Evidence-based policies, rather than ideology-based policies, will provide a higher-quality, peer-reviewed parliamentary debate. 

Tom Gordon - Candidate for Watson

I completed my bachelor's degree in Astrophysics and a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication at the Australian National University, then furthered my studies in France and Portugal in the International Space Industry before returning to Australia where I was a High School Science teacher. After a short employment at the National Measurement Institute, I moved into Science Communicator and Physics Education Researcher roles. 

There are some things we know, and other things we don’t know. And as a scientist, this really excites me. I love the fact that we have no idea about some things. In fact there are very few things in science that we can be certain about. Science prides itself on being proven wrong, it’s how science works. We make a theory, and then when it is wrong, change the theory to fit our new observations. It is really the only way that science progresses. In fact it is the only way that anything progresses. This is where the phrase “we learn from our mistakes” comes from. So why can’t we learn from our political mistakes? How often does a politician make a statement and back it up with accepted facts? How often do you hear a politician say “I was wrong”? How many productive peer discussions are there between the government and the opposition?

Being a scientist, I view the world with science eyes. I see good arguments and bad arguments and I can distinguish (most of the time!) between the two. Then I see political decisions being made and it sometimes depresses me, sometimes makes me laugh. What I would like to see is more scientific logic in our political discussions. This means more actual discussion and less name calling. It means if you are wrong that you have learnt something, and gained a chance to make your policy better. It means that people will vote for you and they will understand your policies better.

As a 'litmus test' of the health of our political system, have a look at how many of our politicians are scientifically literate. Too great a concentration of lawyers and career politicians in parliament and the discussion will become 'acidic'. Not enough scientific understanding and appreciation and it’ll be too ‘basic.’ What we need is a balance. Granted, you don’t have to have a science degree to be scientifically literate, but I think in this sort of office, there really is a lot to be said for formal science training. My goal is to raise awareness of science in places where I see a need. I see a need in our political system to have a greater understanding of science and a greater respect for its worth and value.

The astronomer Edwin Hubble said, “Equipped with our 5 senses, we explore the world around us and we call the adventure science.” In my opinion, this is not, and should not be contained to the scientific domain. I want to turn the houses of parliament into political laboratories, where we can make and test our hypotheses, where we make predictions and have robust, peer reviewed and productive discussions. Australia can become a great experiment