February 16, 2010


A Disgrace to Science (Tom Bethell, February 2010, American Spectator)

[T]he betrayers of science have found that public opinion is easily manipulated, especially with press cooperation. The principles that, starting in the 17th century, turned science into one of the great human enterprises can be subverted. Most Americans—most people in the world—know so little about these things that the methods of science can be twisted with hardly anyone noticing.

Today, many scientists and opinion leaders think that if an elite consensus in favor of certain “policies” can be generated, the underlying science must be right. The corrupt system of “peer review” will reliably exclude dissenters, and if the naysayers continue making themselves heard they will be called denialists, tools of right-wing talk radio, etc.

This is where climate science has been heading. It is also where other major fields of science stand today—at the mercy of a contrived consensus. “Climate change” has attracted major attention not because its methods of subversion are much different from now-standard practice, but because literally trillions of dollars are at stake.

Those who promoted the bogus certainties of global warming not only sought to upend a whole way of life but came close to doing so. They have been aided by hundreds of well-known politicians, writers, reporters, and politicized scientists. Among politicians, Al Gore is only the best known. In the last category, James Hansen and Michael Mann are among the major U.S. culprits.

Christopher Booker, who has long covered these issues for the Sunday Telegraph and is one of the few British journalists to have done so, calls climate fraud “the greatest scientific scandal of our age.” He notes that the Royal Society, a once great institution founded in 1662, has become “a shameless propagandist for the warmist cause.”

Government funding has been the major subversive force. If you read Science, as I do, you see that the issue the magazine cares about above all others, and editorializes about week after week, is funding. Government funding. The constant concern about money means that Science and other journals feel obliged to keep up a drumbeat of articles that sustain the mood of crisis surrounding a given issue. Climate change is the leading illustration today, but there are others.

One example—a comparatively innocent one as these things go—is the flu-scare industry. It comes around like clockwork. SARS (’03) was replaced by avian flu (’05), then by swine flu (’09). Don’t panic but do worry (is the message), because it’s pandemic time. The key point is that death from infectious disease is way down compared to what it was in earlier centuries, and yet these agencies exist and need to keep puffing up their budgets.

So a scientific-seeming scare emerges from the World Health Organization and is magnified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The media, hungry for viewers, lavish uncritical attention. More cautious newsroom voices, should they exist, will be frightened off: “Be responsible! You could cause the deaths of millions of people!” Budgets for WHO and CDC are duly fattened. Infectious disease boss Anthony Fauci appears on TV on schedule. He tells us to stay calm, take our shots, and be alert for news bulletins. Laurie Garrett publishes another scary tome and Michael Fumento remains the lone dissenter. Within two or three years it’s time for another cycle.

The scientists who promote these self-serving scares are employed by government agencies or by universities. The latter are under constant pressure to attract grants, whether from the NIH, NASA, the National Science Foundation, or other government agencies.

You have to enjoy the fact though that, when it comes to Science, skeptics believe in the scientific method and the believers don't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2010 6:59 AM
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