Curtis Dahlgren
GOWN VS. TOWN: Has science ever been totally apolitical?
By Curtis Dahlgren
September 6, 2020

Note: Republished from February 12, 2012

[This is an open letter to my Alumni Assn.]


John Allen, Senior Editor, "ON WISCONSIN"
Wisconsin Alumni Association
Madison, Wisconsin

First, I enjoy On Wisconsin, so thank you. As one of your many readers, may I propose a future article topic? The reading material enclosed is related to the question as to whether there is much, if any, "settled science" or "consensus science" totally free of "politics." I'll try to summarize the issue here briefly, with hopes that you might consider addressing this subject (credibility is everything in True Science, and that's been slowly slipping of late).

Perhaps you could do a follow-up article on the one written by Niki Dennisen a couple of years ago re Darwinism. She did a good job writing, but on the University (gown) side of the coin the whole premise was "Of course we're right; we just need to do a better P.R. job (packaging and marketing) to get the dissenters to shut up" (I paraphrase). A majority of people out there (Townies) either don't believe in evolution or think that it would have needed an original Designer had it happened.

That's just one of many "science" topics that are giving the taxpayers reasons to be leery of the modern "science community." Everything from food scares to exaggerated environmental scares, combined with some out-and-out fraud is giving Science in general a bad name (think Climate Change and Climategate).

The first phony scare I recall was the "Framingham, Massachusetts report" on milk and butter in the 1950s (they could kill you). But did we ever know anything about the authors of that study? How do we know they weren't vegetarians, or worse, charter members of People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals? Or did they own stock in margarine? Which came first, their conclusion or their "research"? Can anything good come out of Massachusetts? Remember the "eggs can kill" campaign too?

As for Darwinism, that orthodoxy is considered safe as long as 4-year-olds who know nothing can be government-educated for the rest of their lives. This will keep them from ever finding out that there is still an on-going debate about the Origin of man — even among the various denominations of Darwinistas (see the ON WIS article re Professor Margolis). The idea is, just let the older "clinger-believers" die off! Still, the Gown side (academia) is frustrated by the slowness of the progress (even a majority of the college-educated "Townies" still hang on to their doubts about Evolution — even UW grads/taxpayers). A bit about my background:

I retired in the U.P. of Michigan in 2002 to get away from the outrageous property taxes in Wisconsin. I was literally priced out of my dad's homestead. I couldn't afford to own the five acres I inherited, due mostly to outlandish taxes and rising fuel prices. I now live on the Michigan side of the Menominee River — laughing my head off at the Wisconsin side.

In 1960 I got a full scholarship to the UW Farm Short Course and was a Rec major in 1970-71. Farmers were among the first "good stewards" of the land, and Park and Rec majors often become ecology-minded. I didn't stay in farming, but worked outside my whole career as an arborist, saving trees through private enterprise. I even joined Friends of the Earth around 1970, but cancelled my membership after reading just one issue of their publication. It was so obvious that they were classic anti-capitalists and more interested in saving the socialist agenda than saving the earth. The FOE editor even admitted, in writing, that "most ecologists are socialists" [in other words, conveniently using environmentalism to get their way]. Back to the subject, "Has science ever been totally apolitical, or neutral on religion?":

Gallileo's work was used by others as a political club over the heads of the churches. My UW landscaping 101 professor attacked my religion and the Bible on the first day of class in the fall of 1970. He said that the phrase "subdue the earth" was the reason the earth is polluted, and Eastern religions were more "friendly to the earth." I filed a written complaint which said that the word translated "subdue" from the original Hebrew simply meant "manage the earth" The same passage also said "Dress and keep it" (the garden, the environment). I also pointed out that China and other parts of Asia had vast regions of man-made devastation. I could have pointed out the fact that the worst pollution in the world was in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Speaking of Russia, I have written extensively about the Nihilists of the sixties (1860s) that preceded the Bolsheviks. Darwin published Origin in 1859 and by 1862 writers noticed that the "hippies" had arrived in the schools of higher learning in Russia. They believed that religion was just a phase of evolution and Russia was ready for an era based on "pure science."

An excerpt from one of my columns — -

"Turgueniev had noticed a new and strikingly original type . . young men and women in slovenly attire . . They reversed the traditional order of things, even in trivial matters of external appearance, the males allowing the hair to grow long and the female adepts cutting it short . . .

"Some of the Nihilists maintained that things were not yet ripe for a rising of the masses [and] . . that some idea should be formed as to the order of things which should take [the place of the status quo, but] . . . in a brochure issued in 1874 one of the most influential leaders [Tkatchev] explained that the object of the revolutionary party should be . . the realization of [revolution] at the earliest possible moment . . .

"In accordance the fashionable doctrine of evolution, the reconstruction of society on the tabula rosa might be left, it was thought, to the spontaneous action of natural forces."Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910 (my emphasis)

Yes, throughout history, it has been almost impossible to "separate" politics and science; there are always extrapolations of scientific "doctrines" by acolytes of the original scientist (no matter how sincere he may have been). Karl Marx wanted to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin, but was turned down.

For example, John Dewey said that evolution had "introduced a mode of thinking that in the end was bound to transform the logic of knowledge, and hence the treatment of morals, politics, and religion."

President Wilson said that "after the Newtonian Theory of the Universe had been developed, almost all thinking tended to express itself in the analogies of the Newtonian Theory [Natural Law] and since the Darwinian Theory has reigned amongst us, everybody is likely to express whatever he wishes to expound in terms of development and accommodation to environment." [from his book "The New Freedom"]


The motto of the National Association for the Social Sciences is "Transforming cultures; past, present, and future."

It works both ways. While Darwinism is used for political purposes, Darwin himself had been "influenced" by the politics of his day:

"The scientific search for truth takes place in a cultural context, and Darwin's theorizing was no exception. He unconsciously absorbed many social and political values peculiar to his time, place, and class; and these values indirectly colored his ideas."The World & I magazine, August 1999; "Darwin's 'Origin' Transforms Culture"

And Darwinism is just the tip of the iceberg of "Settled Science." We are constantly told that we 'dass'nt' debate Climate Change anymore! We're told we must'nt ask too many questions. And the next scientific breakthrough is just around the corner:

Proof of life on Mars. Inhabitable planets outside our solar system. A vaccine for AIDS. All kinds of miracle cures from embryonic stem-cell research. "Just over the horizon; just around the bend!"


© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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