More "Anti-Science" McCarthyism
7 Jul, 2008 09:14 am
Good grief, there they go again. If you disagree with the progressive political view, er, I mean, the "scientific consensus," you are branded as "anti science." Another in a wearying series of cases in point is today's hysterical rant about global warming by Joseph Romm in Slate.
From his column: "On a planet reeling from global warming and desertification,
"Conservatives can't stop the impending catastrophe with anti-government rhetoric. But they can prevent progressives and moderates from stopping it by blocking aggressive climate legislation. Progressives and moderates will need all their political skill and tenacity to overcome the obstructionism of the anti-science, anti-technology conservatives. This is unlike any previous political fight; it is a fight to save the health and well-being of the next 50 generations, a fight to preserve our way of life. Losing is not an option."
Oh baloney. Don't get me wrong: I don't want to get into a discussion about the merits of the man made global warming hypothesis. (That is what it is, it isn't a fact.) I have an opinion about that, but it isn't an informed opinion and moreover, it is beyond the scope of SHS.
But misusing science by turning its name into a political bludgeon is something we do discuss here because I have seen it in the cloning and other debates in which I engage. Just as it is not anti science to oppose human cloning research, it is not anti-science to have a different opinion about global warming than Al Gore or James "jail the oil executives" Hanson, or indeed, having a different view than the international "scientific consensus." Moreover, holding onto and fighting to prove heterodox views is an essential part of the scientific process, and from what I have read, many very credible climatologists question global warming in general, and the Gore-type hype about 20 foot sea level increases in specific. And they have credible facts to back them up, such as no overall increases in temperatures for about ten years and a good Arctic freeze this year restoring ice levels to more normal levels. These heterodox thinkers might very well be wrong, but that is not the same thing at all as being anti-science.
But conflating the goals of progressive politics with science--as Romm does in his demagogic column--is an abuse of science, which ideally should be apolitical. And it is sheer demagoguery of the McCarthyite stripe. Moreover, it doesn't work. You can't force people to believe you, particularly when the evidence is mixed. Screaming that the sky is falling and jumping up and down is not going to change any minds. Even the Brits, who have had this stuff shoved down their throats for many years just aren't buying. Does that make them anti-science too? So a word of advice to Joseph Romm: Get a grip.
Originally published on: Secondhand Smoke: Your 24/7 Bioethics Seminar.