Concern clean green image doomed

William Rolleston
William Rolleston
William Rolleston, who chairs the Science Ministry's Innovation Board, has voiced concern about New Zealand promoting itself as a ''clean and green'' nation.

He was commenting in an address to about 320 graduates who had just graduated from the University of Otago with a range of qualifications, including in law, commerce and health sciences, at a 1pm ceremony at the Regent Theatre, Dunedin, on Saturday.

''No matter what degree you have chosen, a university education teaches you one thing: how to think.

''The knowledge you have gained and the training you have had has given you the ability to make many decisions instinctively.

''I worry when we tout ourselves as a clean and green country,'' he said.

This message had ''instant appeal and short-term popularity'' but relied on ''confirmation bias'' and was ''doomed in the longer run''.

Discussing ''confirmation bias'' elsewhere in his address, Dr Rolleston noted ''we are often too willing just to take information we have been given to confirm our prejudice''.

• William Rolleston is a South Canterbury farmer and company director and is vice-president of Federated Farmers.

Confirmation bias

GJ Philip" That's a new one 'Confirmation Bias'. It begs the question, though: how do we know anything?
When we travel to the USA, we learn that Americans take their garbage out to sea and dump it. (Stuart Little II.) It frightens me what the Chinese do with their garbage, but some of it used to end up in their children's milk. (Waste plastic protein) In India they just chuck it in the river.
On this basis we are pretty green after all. 

But to impress the Europeans we do need to have our ducks in a row. Those fussy Europeans won't let our products in if they're not green enough. And of course the certifying authority is European. Like the Aussies with our apples, is it just a huge scam to stop us sending them over there?