Scientific Authority Becomes Scientific Authoritarianism
We’re looking forward to the March for Science this coming April 22, planned for Washington, DC, and with satellite marches across the country. If you’ve read about it, it promises to be a screechy and politicized protest against questioning orthodox scientific views or criticizing scientists.
Scientists, as you know, are now held by many to enjoy a status granting them permanent immunity from criticism (much like the media, judges, and intelligence officials). In this way, scientific authority transmutes into scientific authoritarianism. Meanwhile we’re told it’s the skeptics on Darwinism and other scientific ideas, perpetually dodging threats to their careers and reputations, that we are supposed to fear and revile.
Some excellent advance reading on this theme would be the new book by Tom Bethell, Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates. Our colleague Rachel Adams has written and directed an excellent video that’s a kind of précis of Bethell.
Her title, Iconclast, is well chosen. Over a career of more than forty years, Bethell has talked with iconic evolutionary scientists including Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Edward O. Wilson, and Colin Patterson. Hearing notes of disquiet among researchers themselves, he probed the evidence for the Darwinian account of life and found that, in his informed, accessible, and entertainingly defended view, there’s little or none.
This comment of his from the film is a keeper:
The great problem with science as it is understood today is that authority more and more replaces evidence. The scientists themselves love that, of course, because it means you can’t question them. But the fact is that we should be questioning them everywhere they go because the whole notion of science is that it should be open to the idea of questioning the claims that you make.
Question them “everywhere they go”? Scientists and their media protectors squeal and accuse you of “science denial” when you refuse to simply take whatever they say on the basis of authority alone. What?! Criticize the precious scientists? Tell them you don’t believe everything they say? Outrageous! Not allowed!