From the updated edition of John West’s Darwin Day in America (with Afterword),
Our culture is witnessing the rise of what could be called totalitarian science—science so totalistic in its outlook that its defenders claim the right to remake every sphere of human life, from public policy and education to ethics and religion. The evidence for the rise of this kind of scientific authoritarianism is not just anecdotal. A study published in 2010 confirmed that in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in what some have called the “authoritarian tone” of science, exemplified by the growing use in science journalism of phrases such as “science requires,” “science dictates,” and “science tells us we should.”
The study to which he refers is discussed here:
In the past, scientists were generally neutral on questions of what to do. Instead, they just told people what they found, such as “we have discovered that smoking vastly increases your risk of lung cancer” or “we have discovered that some people will have adverse health effects from consuming high levels of salt.” Or “we have found that obesity increases your risk of coronary heart disease.” Those were simply neutral observations that people could find empowering, useful, interesting, etc., but did not place demands on them. In fact, this kind of objectivity was the entire basis for trusting scientific claims.
But along the way, an assortment of publicity-seeking, and often socially activist, scientists stopped saying, “Here are our findings. Read it and believe.” Instead, activist scientists such as NASA’s James Hansen, heads of quasi-scientific governmental organizations such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, editors of major scientific journals, and heads of the various national scientific academies are more inclined to say, “Here are our findings, and those findings say that you must change your life in this way, that way, or the other way.”
News here has noticed the trend, and also the growing impatience with the traditional rules of science that constrain their fantasies.
See also: John West has updated Darwin Day in America (read free excerpt!)
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