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The Back-pocket Manifesto ObamaCare: Defeat or Repeal?

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Science's Big Problem

by Christopher Chantrill
March 02, 2010 at 10:25 pm

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LAST WEEK Dr. Judith Curry, climate scientist from Georgia Institute of Technology, admitted on What’s Up With That that climate scientists needed to do a better job of communication, in order to reestablish trust after the debacle of ClimateGate. In reply, both sides, warmist and skeptic, ripped her to shreds. That, Dr. Curry wrote, showed that she had probably got it right.

In fact, Dr. Curry doesn’t have a clue. If she is talking about communication and trust she is merely talking about public relations, fancy footwork in the dance of politics. Today in America we have a climate science that plays second fiddle to climate politics. It is just a prop for the Al Gores and the environmentalists and their program of political power.

It is disgraceful but true. Scientists today serve as loyal subalterns in the army of government power. The narrative of the disinterested scientist is a myth. Scientists get their money from government, and in return they dance to the music of big government. That is science’s Big Problem.

It all started in 1806 when the Prussians invented the research university as part of their plan to strengthen the state and defeat the French. Pretty soon, Marx invented “scientific socialism” to create a synergy between knowledge and political power. Social science developed knowledge that governments used to control people with the administrative state.

Of course, governments reward their supporters. Physicists helped government get a nice big bomb, and government gives physicists great big particle accelerators to play with as a reward. Biologists work for government doing the science for environmental impact statements; climate scientists work for government to support the politics of climate change. If you wonder why college professors all vote Democratic, just follow the money.

Curiously, in the year the Germans got all this going and opened the University of Berlin, someone figured out that there was going to be a problem.

Goethe published the first part of Faust in 1806.

At least Goethe’s scientist hero in 1806 understood that his search for the essence of life was a pact with the Devil. Our modern scientists don’t possess that level of self-consciousness. They don’t believe in the Devil, so they don’t have a problem.

In her What’s Up With That article, Dr. Curry blandly writes about “what some have called a ‘monolithic climate denial machine.’ Skeptical research published by academics provided fodder for the think tanks and advocacy groups, which were fed by money provided by the oil industry.”

There are peer-reviewed article about this, for instance:The Organization of Denial: Conservative Think Tanks and Environmental Skepticism” in Environmental Politics in June 2008. It teaches that oil companies did contribute to the skeptic campaign as part of the Global Climate Coalition in the 1990s, but that they withdrew after the 2001 IPCC report. Since then, the conservative think tanks have struggled on in denial alone, although Media Matters thinks otherwise.

Modern scientists like Dr. Judith Curry are not in the least disturbed by the dance between knowledge and power. They know, of course, that dancing for the Pentagon is bad. They know that lap-dancing for Big Oil is bad. But it never occurs to them that the dance between scientists and government in climate science might make them ethically challenged. Anyway, as members of the “educated class,” they fully endorse the program of the governing elite—as they should.

It’s easy to sneer at the scientists. They accept the idea that corporate money might taint their science. But that is the limit of their ethical universe. That government money might corrupt the scientist is beyond the ken of modern scientific ethicism.

The scandal is not that scientists are ethically challenged when it comes to living on the government dollar. Nor is it shocking that scientists have conspired with politicians to falsify results or to anathematize the opponents of the politicians. A political servitor should do no less. The scandal is that politics has so enveloped science into its worship of power and its ritual of force, that decent practitioners of science like Dr. Judith Curry utterly lack an appreciation of their debasement and their servitude.

In the theory of the Greater Separation of Powers that I have developed from Michael Novak’s Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, the solution is obvious. We must have a separation of science and state. Science, as a part of the moral/cultural sector, must be separate from government and the political sector. But how can we create a scientific tradition that can liberate science from its servility? Will it take a Moses to lead the scientists out of the land of Egypt into the wilderness until the servile generation dies out?

One thing we know. That Moses won’t be President Obama. He’s increased the government’s research budgets substantially over the benighted levels in the Bush administration. Expect America’s scientists to be suitably, and ingratiatingly, grateful.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

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Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

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E. G. West, Education and the State


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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