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John West on treating dissent in science as heresy

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Darwin Day in America From Darwin Day in America (with Afterword):

The very issue Holdren was testifying about—climate change—provides a disturbing example of the growing effort to treat scientific dissent as heresy. One of America’s leading daily newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, announced in 2013 it would no longer publish letters to the editor that expressed skepticism about the human role in climate change. Since one of the original purposes of printing letters to the editor was to air community viewpoints that might differ from a newspaper’s official position, the Times’s decision represented a dramatic departure from historic journalistic standards.

Others go much further, calling for the criminal prosecution of global warming skeptics. In 2014 Professor Lawrence Torcello at the Rochester Institute of Technology published an essay urging that global warming skeptics who receive funding for their work be charged with criminal negligence. Torcello labeled any criticisms of his proposal on grounds of free speech as “misguided.” Journalist Adam Weinstein published a follow-up essay in which he declared that “denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.”

Such lawsuits are already occurring. As I write this chapter, the conservative journal National Review faces potentially ruinous litigation from Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, one of the leading global warming activists in academia, because National Review writers vigorously criticized his research. (P. 393)

Actually, this trend has also resulted in a popular science mag not accepting comments any more, as we’ve noted here:

Note that the publication is not called Academic Science, it is called Popular Science. … As we know, science is not in the business of “scientific certainty,” but of replicable evidence. The reader input the editors are complaining of would not be happening if the subject areas were not in a state of contention and flux, commonly called “news.”

Incidentally, speaking of states of flux, Earth’s climate usually is in just such a state, which is why dogmatism on the subject is so easy to challenge, if not ridicule. Evolution is always hostage to the next fossil dug up or the latest counter-theory genomic finding.

Popular media – once they decay to the point of seeing themselves as zealots for a righteous cause instead of idle sensation-seekers (a position in which they are vastly less harmful) – can become major advocates for suppression of evidence and even of civil liberties.

See also: New Scientist author supports Popular Science shutting down comments.

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6 Replies to “John West on treating dissent in science as heresy

  1. 1

    See this interesting paper:

    Disagreement as Evidence: The Epistemology of
    Controversy

    David Christensen*

    Brown University

    http://fitelson.org/seminar/christensen.pdf

  2. 2

    Here’s my own contribution to dissent:
    What Design Looks Like: An NCSE Document – with comments by Don Johnson
    at:
    http://ayearningforpublius.wor.....n-johnson/

  3. 3
    humbled says:

    Actions that suppress scientific dissent and scepticism should be met with penalties. Further, if you have the proof show it, no need for litigation, threats and mental gymnastics when challenged.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    Yes they have too attack dissent because they have tried to establish “science” conclusions as settled fact that the public can not/has no right, to question.
    Its about authority and then desperation to defend same authority.
    Its a dumb tyranny that will not work.
    It just gives bigger attention to the skepics of some SETTLED FACT.
    Keep the dissent crushing. Its a winner for trith as it was in history. They don’t know history any better then science.

  5. 5
    rvb8 says:

    Progress humbled, progress.

  6. 6
    OldArmy94 says:

    “denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.” -Adam Weinstein

    The only classes whose livelihoods are “threatened” by “denialist tactics” are left-wing journalists, radical environmentalists and socialists seeking to take control of the means of production. Actually, blind allegiance to the anthropocentric global warming paradigm is much, much more dangerous to the inhabitants of the planet; it denies many developing nations an opportunity to power their economies, improve agricultural production and fight against disease and poverty on multiple levels.

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