by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
There is a growing conflict between the opposing world views of global-warmists and climate-change skeptics that threatens to politicize science.
A recent public comment by an esteemed scientist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, host of the renewed television series, Cosmos, gave an indication of how severely this conflict might be waged. Dr Tyson stated that in science, certain scientific facts are so firmly settled that no time should be wasted on hearing challenges to them. The straw target that was used was the “flat earth” argument. While this author agrees that the flat earth argument is absurd, Tyson’s assertion might be interpreted to imply that the mainstream scientific establishment itself might claim infallibility when its most cherished precepts are challenged, even when the challenge is based on reason, fact and the scientific method. Dissenters could be dismissed as “flat earthers,” subject to ridicule and censorship.
Tyson himself would not likely promote this implication, as indicated by his quote, “We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there.” Despite Tyson’s disavowal of this practice, the politicization of science has become a very real danger. It occurred in the old Soviet Union, and there are accusations from both sides of the political spectrum that it is occurring now in the United States and other western countries.
A prominent example of this involves the phenomenon of climate change. While everyone might agree that the earth’s climate regularly changes, the political argument is that social policy must be adjusted on the basis that climate change is (1) harmful, (2) caused by human industry, and (3) can be remedied by very intrusive government regulation. The argument is acceptable, when both sides can be heard. It is not acceptable when the opposing side is branded by the other as “deniers,” a clear reference to Nazi sympathizers. It is not so much the name-calling, but the implication that the other side must be regarded as inherently evil and therefore must be silenced, that poses the danger.
Creationists are considered by many secularists to be in the same category as “deniers,” and their argument has been effectively squelched in public education. The censorship has gone beyond merely preventing fringe creationist views from being printed in textbooks. It has gone so far as to censor, in some quarters, any and all challenges to natural-materialist doctrine concerning evolution, even when those challenges are presented by established scientists.
While science should not be democratized, neither should it be “doctrinalized” in the manner it is becoming. The risk of locking out the next great advance in science is only increased when censorship replaces open discourse.
Dr Tyson makes a good point when he says that science is “true whether or not you believe in it.” As history has shown, however, sometimes scientific “truth” is not what scientists have said it was. When dissenters are slandered, even when flat earthers are slandered, it is not science that is advanced, but ideology.