Recently, we noted a Big Science meet where the AAAS 2012 participants strove to “Engage the Public” for better science (in this case, on climate change, but they have other lines as well).
It seemed clear to some of us that they could start by taking their own advice: Most participants who were asked to estimate the worldwide birth rate were way, way over the mark. Surely the rest of the world can be cut a little slack for not wanting those people in particular shouting down our ears that we need to get our facts right …. and meanwhile just let them run the show.
Now, in “Attacks paid for by big business are ‘driving science into a dark era’” ( The Guardian Observer, February 19, 2012), science editor Robin McKie opines, “Researchers attending one of the world’s major academic conferences ‘are scared to death of the anti-science lobby’ ”:
As Fedoroff pointed out, university and government researchers are hounded for arguing that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are changing the climate. Their emails are hacked while Facebook campaigns call for their dismissal from their posts, calls that are often backed by rightwing politicians.
And, pardon the garden, but this sounds downright paranoid:
At the last Republican party debate in Florida, Rick Santorum insisted he should be the presidential nominee simply because he had cottoned on earlier than his rivals Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney to the “hoax” of global warming.
Did he indeed? Santorum didn’t do at all well in Florida, so McKie might have been better off to pick an example that shows that people are clearly convinced by what they are hearing.
Except he is counting on his readership not to know the stats or think it was worth finding out.
Then he wonders why proles and plebs like us dare to doubt people like AAAS and him, in the age of the Internet – when anyone with online access can find this stuff out …
What’s worse is the way such writers assume that we are all stupid, and easily led by big businesses against our own inclination.
As in, “Don’t you know that Big Business just want to make lots of money off you?”
Well, yes, we know that. And Big Business isn’t alone. The Big Science guys want a lot of power over us, along with the money.
The rest of us need to listen carefully and determine which group is right about which things.
In a free country, that job goes with the territory. And if researchers are scared to death, it is us working stiffs they are scared of, really. 😉
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