Monday, March 12, 2012

Lessons From the Past

This is an old essay (obviously) from Michael Crichton. But I was reminded of this recently. It is, in my opinion, still very relevant. It recalls a shameful period in our history, a period that many on the left still seem very comfortable with. And it draws some parallels with another similar issue today. Give it a read and see what you think. See what happens when mindless groupthink sets in, and people go along with the popular trend without thinking.

"Why Politicized Science is Dangerous" by Michael Crichton

I was shocked to see the people who supported eugenics when I read this article. I can't say I'm surprised, though. I have always viewed people like Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as big government blowhards, and this is just more evidence of it. Think about that for a second when you hear about the "consensus" that now supports the CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) theories that are in vogue. The consensus doesn't mean shit.

Crichton writes about eugenics: "Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected."
I believe that global warming will be viewed similarly in the future.

I was also fascinated by this statement:
"Third, and most distressing, the scientific establishment in both the United States and Germany did not mount any sustained protest. Quite the contrary. In Germany scientists quickly fell into line with the program. Modern German researchers have gone back to review Nazi documents from the 1930s. They expected to find directives telling scientists what research should be done. But none were necessary. In the words of Ute Deichman, 'Scientists, including those who were not members of the [Nazi] party, helped to get funding for their work through their modified behavior and direct cooperation with the state.' Deichman speaks of the 'active role of scientists themselves in regard to Nazi race policy ... where [research] was aimed at confirming the racial doctrine ... no external pressure can be documented.' German scientists adjusted their research interests to the new policies. And those few who did not adjust disappeared."

And this is what we are seeing from scientists right now, with respect to global warming. No need to induce them to kowtow to the government, to help push the government agenda (claim global warming is a problem to institute more government control over our lives). They do it voluntarily!

As an engineer I would expect technical people to know better. I would expect them to analyze the evidence and make up their own minds. But I have seen first hand that this is not true. Even technical "experts" ignore the facts when they have an agenda. People can rationalize anything, and it disgusts me.

I completely agree with Crichton's final paragraph:
"That is the danger we now face. And this is why the intermixing of science and politics is a bad combination, with a bad history. We must remember the history, and be certain that what we present to the world as knowledge is disinterested and honest."