Dan Popp
Pimping science
By Dan Popp
June 29, 2009

The dogmatism of science has become a new orthodoxy, disseminated by the Media and a State educational system with a thoroughness and subtlety far exceeding anything of the kind achieved by the Inquisition. — Malcolm Muggeridge

There are many things wrong with Congress' current heroic effort to save the planet at our expense. By inflicting costs on manufacturers, the latest incarnation of Cap-and-Trade will hurt the economy and kill jobs. It's a regressive tax, since the poor use more energy as a percentage of their income. Like the "stimulus," its costs are enormous and its benefits elusive. And, like most things done in Washington these days, it's blatantly unconstitutional.

But the worst thing about it, in my view, is that it's a misuse of science.

The ultimate question isn't whether global warming is happening, or whether man is causing it, or even what we could do about it. The deeper questions are, what is science? And don't we need a "wall of separation" between science and state?

    When someone says science teaches such and such, he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn't teach it; experience teaches it. If they say to you science has shown such and such, you might ask, "How does science show it — how did the scientists find out — how, what, where?" Not science has shown, but this experiment, this effect, has shown. And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but we must listen to all the evidence), to judge whether a reasonable conclusion has been arrived at. ... There is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science. — Manhattan Project scientist Dr. Richard P. Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Science Says

Science is a method — a way of investigating our world. It isn't a stone tablet of eternal dogmas. The scientific consensus just a few decades ago was that we were in dire peril of global cooling. Should we call them "anti-science" and "Cooling Deniers" who reject this "established science?"

Since Newton, scientists believed that gravity is a force that pulls. Einstein told us that gravity pushes.

Even though a kindergartner can look at a globe and see that Africa and South America would fit together like pieces of a colossal jigsaw puzzle, scientists for hundreds of years insisted that continents do not move. It was just in the 1960s that the theory of "plate tectonics" was grudgingly accepted, and the learned doctors acknowledged what any child could see.

Eggs are bad for you. No, wait — they're good. Coffee is either a poison or a wonder drug, depending on which study you believe. Every year thousands of scientific "facts" are overturned by upstart scientists — whose work will be modified or refuted next year by their colleagues, ad infinitum.

We know that many of our current scientific theories are wrong. We just don't know which ones.

This constant revision and reversal isn't because the scientific method is useless. It's because error is an essential part of the process: trial-and-error. As happened with the nature of gravity and plate tectonics, it may take centuries to discover a goof and make real advances in knowledge. If anyone holds a press conference and states that now, finally, today, scientists have learned the whole truth about any one thing; he has stepped outside the realm of science.

M. Cartmill said, "As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life — so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."

When we forget that all scientific knowledge is tentative, we turn science into superstition.

Secular Saviors

Enter the public servant. His is not the world of provisional findings followed by centuries of uncertainty. A politician must solve problems. If there are no real problems to speak of, he will create some. One doesn't get re-elected by sitting idly by and letting citizens muddle through as best they can! We are all in grave danger! There is a crisis! And thank God I am here to do something about it!

In total disregard of the nature of science as a fluid process, the politician will seize on its oracle du jour as if it were The Apocalypse.

There are too many people! — I give you free abortion!
There are not enough people! — I grant amnesty to illegal aliens!
Cars are not safe enough! — Thou shalt make cars heavier!
Heavy cars are killing the planet! — I command they be lighter!

All the nonsensical, alarmist decrees of Congress can be understood when we realize that a politician needs problems like normal people need oxygen; and that, if the electorate is ignorant enough, he can invoke the name of science to provide both problems and solutions.

Heil Science!

Science in the service of power should scare the living hell out of us. A certain German leader of the last century co-opted science to propose not just a solution, but "the final solution": we'll give Nature a helping hand by exterminating the less evolved races. Now, you may say that this was a bad application of good science, and I may see it as a perfectly logical application of bad science; but the point is that it doesn't matter.

Whether the "accepted science" is correct or incorrect, Hitler's victims are just as dead.

In this century, some would impoverish the most productive countries and cultures because, they say, Science demands it. But science, as Feynman said, is mute. It issues no decrees. The shamanists tell us that the science on anthropogenic global warming is clear and settled; but real science is by nature unclear and unsettled. The Cap-and-Trade carbon tax is yet another example of the prostitution of science by political pimps.

Why is Marxism the answer to AWG? The most inconvenient truth of all is that the solutions to global warming line up all too conveniently with the pre-existing political agendas of its apostles. The Brother Gore Traveling Salivation Show had the solution first — totalitarian socialism — and found a problem to fit.

I have nowhere in this article said that anthropogenic global warming is not an impending catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude. What I have been trying to say is that, whether it is or isn't, "science" in the service of raw political power is a more certain and more ominous threat.

Click here to discuss this article.

© Dan Popp


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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