Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The "Science" Trap

     At the age of twenty-seven, Dr. Robert Stadler had written a treatise on cosmic rays, which demolished most of the theories held by the scientists who preceded him. Those who followed, found his achievement somewhere at the base of any line of inquiry they undertook. At the age of thirty, he was recognized as the greatest physicist of his time. At thirty-two, he became the head of the Department of Physics at Patrick Henry University, in the days when the great university still deserved its glory. It was of Dr. Robert Stadler that a writer had said: “Perhaps, among the phenomena of the universe which he is studying, none is so miraculous as the brain of Dr. Robert Stadler himself.” It was Dr. Robert Stadler who had once corrected a student: “Free scientific inquiry? The first adjective is redundant.”
     At the age of forty, Dr. Robert Stadler addressed the nation, endorsing the establishment of a State Science Institute. “Set science free from the rule of the dollar,” he pleaded. The issue had hung in the balance; an obscure group of scientists had quietly forced a bill through its long way to the floor of the Legislature; there had been some public hesitation about the bill, some doubt, an uneasiness no one could define. The name of Dr. Robert Stadler acted upon the country like the cosmic rays he studied: it pierced any barrier. The nation built the white marble edifice as a personal present to one of its greatest men.

     [From Atlas Shrugged.]

     There are days I find myself wondering if Ayn Rand had a device that allowed her to view the future. I have a few differences with her, of course, but on subject after subject she seems incontestably prescient. Government funded, government managed “science” is one such.

     Governments are not altruists. Neither are those that vie for control of their powers. A government that funds anything – the sciences included – will eventually develop an agenda for it. That agenda will have little to do with “scientific inquiry.”

     In all probability, my Gentle Readers being bright and well informed sorts, you’ve already read about climate-science whistleblower Dr. John Bates:

     In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.

     Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.

     A good scientist – a good man – would have nothing to do with such a scheme, or with any organization that would countenance it. Apparently Dr. Bates’s conscience led him to such a conclusion, as his career is in jeopardy for having “spilled the beans.” I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s received death threats.

     But soft! What counterstroke through yonder Internet breaks?

     Australia’s chief scientist has slammed Donald Trump’s attempt to censor environmental data, saying the US president’s behaviour was comparable to the manipulation of science by the Soviet Union.

     Speaking at a scientific roundtable in Canberra on Monday, Alan Finkel warned science was “literally under attack” in the United States and urged his colleagues to keep giving “frank and fearless” advice despite the political opposition.

     “The Trump administration has mandated that scientific data published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency from last week going forward has to undergo review by political appointees before that data can be published on the EPA website or elsewhere,” he said.

     Mind you, of the largest scientific and environmental scandals of the past century, a healthy fraction have involved the EPA – as a perpetrator. It’s overstepped its statutory authority on too many occasions to enumerate here. But demanding that the administration that funds and oversees that agency have the privilege of reviewing its publications before they’re foisted upon the public with the authority of “science” is a step too far for those...persons, including their government-funded allies in the Land Down Under.

     [And while we’re here, three cheers for the indispensable Joanne Nova for her fearless and relentless reporting on these subjects. If I weren’t old and long married, and didn’t resemble something left over from a mortuary fire...but perhaps we shouldn’t go there.]

     The irony of Finkel’s diatribe is overwhelming. The man holds a position whose very title is absurd. His salary, and no doubt the funding for whatever activities he oversees, come from a government. Governments have blatantly used environmental scare propaganda as a vehicle with which to pursue absolute control of their nations’ economies...and some have largely gained what they sought. But for the government of another nation – one on the other side of the world – to do what a government can only be expected to do with the opinions of an agency it funds strikes him as beyond the pale.

     I know, I know: it’s only the cumulative effect of a set of incentives over time. But today, with human freedom endangered everywhere, the moral must be drawn.

     Allow me to be maximally plain about the matter:

“Government science” is NOT LEGITIMATE SCIENCE.

     Scientists whose livelihoods and researches depend upon the blessing of the State are beholden to that State. They can be coerced into supporting the State’s agenda more easily than any other species of creature. Therefore, their pronouncements cannot be trusted until entirely private researchers provide peer review and confirmation of their results.

     We would be far better off had the notion of government funded science never been conceived. It should have been treated as a hybrid between propaganda and witchcraft. The trap it provides for potentially honest, potentially productive scientists is attractive beyond belief. Worse yet, it snares the beliefs and attitudes of non-scientists with its veneer of “scientific authority” – yet another internally contradictory idea – more effectively with every passing year.

     It’s one of the most lethal weapons in the arsenal of the State. It must be brought to a halt before it destroys everything we hold dear.


Anonymous said...

I am a scientist. As such I have from the beginning looked with skepticism upon 'global warming'. Even in the early days it was clear we have at best about 100 years of data for what we believe to be an approximately 10,000 year cycle. That means we have at best about 1% of the data that would define one cycle. Bear in mind the accuracy of instruments for probably the first 50 to 80 years and we have significantly less than 1% of reliable data. That was enough for me to dismiss it. I would never state a conclusion and propose actions on <1% of the data. If I tried that at work I'd be counseled on what is good science. Furthermore, if I had been found to fabricate data I would be immediately dismissed and have a darn hard time finding another job.

Yes, Virginia, 'global warming' and/or 'climate change' are a pure complete hoax. A lie or pack of lies even.

Who remembers the late 70's when the talk heads screamed about the coming ice age? Guess how many ice age supporters got on the global warming dole? Interesting no.

I read Atlas Shrugged as a teenager and reread it as a young adult. I could see then we were on the same path. What I did not fathom was how fast we'd get further down that path. I never thought it would be in my lifetime. However, I can now say I've lived to hear a politician misuse the Biblical phrase, "Am I my brother's keeper?". Too bad most don't realize this was not said meaning to take responsibility for the brother's welfare but to cover up his murder.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Rick Moran http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/02/government_whistle_blower_accuses_noaa_of_manipulating_climate_data_.html :
"Scientific agencies run by taxpayer dollars are not in the business of performing "real" science to get at the truth of an issue. They are in business to validate the political agenda of their masters in the White House. And if they have to manipulate data or, as in the Bush White House, ignore contradictory data, they will do so."

Roy Lofquist said...

"Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address

Pascal said...

"Therefore, their pronouncements cannot be trusted until entirely private researchers provide peer review and confirmation of their results. "

Fran, in my opinion this is the sentence that needs to be emphasized most. There are two reasons I'd do this.

One is for all the reasons you laid out so as to protect sovereignty of individuals against either a declared agenda that invokes the Precautionary Principle in order to shut down opposition, or a hidden agenda that can more easily be pulled off while pursuing such a declared open agenda.

Two is to force into the open the underlying data upon which a "theory" is based. When tax payer money has gone into producing the data upon which a theory is based, that information is owned by the taxpayers and not the researcher. The libel suit that Michael Mann has pursued may have unraveled long ago had the government not been backing his claim to hold his allegedly supporting data undisclosed. It is inconvenient fact that his product backs a theory that currently propels wide-scale government policy that itself compromises the integrity of the government's position in helping him keep his data a secret. That their joint position of secrecy it is in open violation of the scientific method helps make your case.

This secrecy can in no way be to protect national security, but it can readily be demonstrated by those better talented than am I how it is a way to protect corrupt government from being brought to justice.