It’s pretty unfair to call somebody “anti-science.” I mean, everybody likes science, right?
That’s what I always thought–at least until fairly recently. That Daniel Henninger Wall Street Journal article got me thinking otherwise, a bit–but only a bit.
But now comes a piece in Investors.com (“powered by” Investor’s Business Daily) by David J. Theroux, who is head of the Independent Institute, a think tank that in the past has been a recipient of ExxonMobil largesse. “Science is not the final arbiter of truth,” blazes the headline–but hey, we all know authors don’t write their headlines.
But the rest of the article is actually in a similar vein:
Thanks to the e-mail exchanges and other documents hacked from computers at the Hadley Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, we now know there has been a conspiracy among some in the science community to spread alarmist views of global warming and intimidate, if not silence, those who disagree.
Let’s hope these revelations result in a sober reassessment both of academia, generally, and the scientific enterprise specifically.
There’s no evidence of a conspiracy, actually, in those emails. Nor is there evidence of anything at all surprising about academia or about science. But Theroux continues:
For far too long, science has been shrouded in a cloak of unquestionable authority as the final arbiter of all knowledge (except, of course, when the research has been funded by business, which for some makes it necessarily suspect).
Such a status has resulted in the creation of enormous, government-funded institutions to examine seemingly every aspect of human existence, with climate science alone receiving $7 billion annually from the U.S. government — more than is spent on cancer and AIDS research.
Unlike business- or even independently funded research, the findings and recommendations of government-funded researchers has been viewed by many as sacrosanct.
Sacrosanct? In my experience, government-funded researchers are under constant fire, and nowhere more than on the climate issue. Indeed, they have been under fire from think tanks like the Independent Institute and its many brethren, who wish to set up an ideological counter academia that will, I assure you, be massively more biased, and massively less dependable, than anything that currently exists in either academia or established science.
The Climate-gate revelations may finally dispel the myth that has surrounded the global warming movement and trigger a movement to put scientific inquiry back into the laboratory and keep it out of the political arena.
Which is weird….because anybody who knows anything about scientists knows that they tend to be really shy about venturing into the political arena. Bizarrely, Theroux wants to lock scientists back up in the lab where, frankly, many would be glad to stay in the first place–because they know well there are many ideological opponents out there, out gunning for them.
It continually astounds me just how much some conservatives live in an upside-down world with respect to modern science. They fear a thing that does not exist; they demonize the unknown. I simply don’t understand how they could talk about “ClimateGate” in the way they do–in the way Theroux does–if they had any serious sense of the realities of trying to conduct science while under fire, in a politicized area like climate research.
Or, alternatively, perhaps conservatives do understand these realities, but are simply engaging in a deafening chorus of “shocked, shocked” behavior.
Either way, it is telling that, by way of spinning “ClimateGate” into the scandal of the century, they feel compelled to denounce the entire infrastructure of modern science in the process.
Links to this Post
- I guess reality has a scientific bias « A Man With A Ph.D. | December 14, 2009
- NYT’s Andy Revkin Gets Cordial Farewell From WUWT « NCTimes.com Blogs | December 14, 2009