Sowell: The "Science" Mantra

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I am glad to see a widely-read columnist like Thomas Sowell making the points he does about the the global warming debate without reading too much into what the ClimateGate revelations might specifically mean to the scientific arguments over whether the climate is warming and, if so, whether human activity might be the cause. This is precisely the right angle in discussing the "hysteria" (i.e., the push for global coercion), which is distinct from the actual scientific question being used to confuse or preempt debate by the general public.

"Global warming" hysteria is only the latest in this long line of notions, whose main argument is that there is no argument, because it is "science." ...

Factual data are crucial in real science. Einstein himself urged that his own theory of relativity not be accepted until it could be empirically verified. This verification came when scientists around the world observed an eclipse of the sun and discovered that light behaved as Einstein's theory said it would behave, however implausible that might have seemed beforehand.

Today, politicized "science" has too big a stake in the global warming hysteria to let the facts speak for themselves and let the chips fall where they may. ...

People who talk about the corrupting influence of money seem to automatically assume that it is only private money that is corrupting. But, when governments have billions of dollars invested in the global warming crusade, massive programs underway and whole political careers at risk if that crusade gets undermined, do not expect the disinterested search for truth.

Among the intelligentsia, there have always been many who are ready to jump on virtually any bandwagon that will take them to the promised land, where the wise and noble few-- like themselves-- can take the rest of us poor dummies in hand and tell us how we had better change the way we live our lives.
I would have liked to see Sowell standing up for private funding of science, as well as a sentence or two to the effect that government control of the economy is immoral. (The latter is precisely how the leftist intelligentsia intend to take us dummies into the promised land: by force.) Nevertheless, Sowell has succeeded in bringing up several crucial points: that high-pressure salesmanship by a scientist is a red flag, that government money does not somehow ritualistically purify those on whom it falls, and that scientists should not be treated as if they are our philosopher-kings.

-- CAV

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