The fascist heart of scientists

A nice little example from Oz of the view of climate scientists that's been slowly growing in strength - accompanied this week by those death threats:

At the heart of many scientists - but not all scientists - lies the heart of a totalitarian planner. One can see them now, beavering away, alone, unknown, in their laboratories. And now, through the great global warming swindle they can influence policy, they can set agendas, they can reach into everyone's lives; they can, like Lenin, proclaim "what must be done". While the humanities had a sort of warm-hearted, muddle-headed leftism, the sciences carry with them no such feeling for humanity. And it is not a new phenomenon. We should not forget that some of the strongest supporters of totalitarian regimes in the last century have been scientists and, in return, the State lavishes praise, money and respectability on them.

Interestingly, Phelps quotes Hayek; here's the original; there's a lovely extra snippet where Hayek hints that scientists and engineers are peculiarly susceptible to the fascist siren song:

It is well known that particularly the scientists and engineers, who had so loudly claimed to be the leaders on the march to a new and better world, submitted more readily than almost any other class to the new tyranny.

Phelps and Hayek are saying, you may be an atmospheric chemist, but your work is training your mind along totalitarian tracks: a belief that science somehow has Absolutist methods for distinguishing fact from fiction. And you'll end up no different to scientific socialists, who've deduced their way to a logical case for robbing us of our liberty.

This view allows Phelps to bemoan Ian Plimer being persecuted for his scientific beliefs. The scientific establishment is the catholic church, those brave enough to oppose the orthodoxy modern-day Galileos etc.

Except, of course, Plimer's actually wrong. He's so spectacularly wrong that I really don't need to provide links. Are we to lose the ability to tell that? Does a commitment to liberty require instead a radical relativism where any theory goes and no empirical test can knock it down? That some people really can't tell the difference between a lab monkey and Stalin?

I used to think it terrible how everyone and his dog tried to dress themselves up in sciencey clothes, but this is much scarier.


*cough* http://dailybayonet.c

Violence / science

Hi Danny, how's things? Cheers for the link. It would have been good to hear your views on the science stuff. For instance, do you agree with Hayek? This article of yours is about as good a position piece on your view of the science I can find. I commented there, you never got back to me. As you know, one day I'd like the two of us to actually work through the science. Since we both seem to agree methods *do* exist that can effectively sort fact from fiction objectively, that should be possible, shouldn't it? One of us is wrong, methods exist to work out which, and if I turn out to be wrong, I'll be the happiest man alive.

On the link you sent: you haven't actually given me anything to go on as regards what you actually think, so I'll have to second-guess. A number of those quotes aren't threats of violence at all. (I'm guessing from what the site says, the writer thinks they're 'wishing the power of state upon them', which I guess must be something libertarians find particularly offensive.) A lot are of the 'gee, I could really smack him upside the head' variety that both you and me are guilty of occasionally. Are you saying those are equivalent to actual death threats or threats to people's families that force them to live under heavy security measures? Here's two of yours:

the first person who implies my criticism of Nobomba is racist gets a punch in the face (link)

Glad I never pursued the possibility of entering the FCO myself. I would have had plenty of choice 'off-message remarks' to make, preceded by the word 'f**k' and followed by a few punches into the fat faces of those corrupt bureaucrats / warlords / terrorists / handmaidens. Never mind 'don't shoot the messenger', it would have been 'careful you're not beaten silly by the messenger'." (link)

Here's a couple of mine - the first one almost a match for the first in the list you sent... oh, now I read it, it's actually self-inflicted violence:

We should all have Scott's parable stapled to our foreheads.

You seemed to like that one: "And after we've stapled Scott's parable to the heads of all the agent-based modellers we could count the staples left and know how many modellers we can cut down and burn each year..."

And here's my 'best' one:

If anyone ever quotes this out of context, I will find out where you live and burn your house down. Just so's you know.

I didn't mean it, of course, and you were presumably joking too. Us saying these things: is it anything like the kind of threats that force people to take extra security precautions? Despite the fact that you can administer a very effective, well-trained punch to the face, I don't believe your statements mean you would. I think it's a figure of speech. The link you sent had one properly worrying one - the rest, I can't see how you'd conflate them with genuine threats to self and family. If you do, then it looks like we're both genuine threats too.


Quick addition: the one quote about Schneider is odd. It accuses Schneider of trying to suppress criticism. This is the same Steve Schneider who specifically invited an entire audience of 'skeptics' to grill him? Video here.

p.s. if ever you're passing this way, you might enjoy this too: climate scientists are just making up the threats in order to garner sympathy and keep the gravy train rolling.

scientific fascism


The higher we climb up the ladder of intelligence, the more we talk with intellectuals, the more likely we are to encounter socialist convictions. Initial surprise at finding that intelligent people tend to be socialist diminishes when one realizes that, of course, intelligent people will tend to overvalue intelligence. The (socialist) mind can conceive of order only as the result of deliberate arrangement. Yet order is desirable not for keeping everything in place but for generating new powers that would otherwise not exist. Once the productive activities of members of a cooperating group transcend the range of the individuals perception, the old impulse to follow inborn altruistic instincts actually hinders the formation of more extensive orders.

The value of order will grow with the variety of the individual. The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. To extend human cooperation beyond the limits of human awareness requires being governed not by shared purposes but abstract rules of conduct.

Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that “the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science.” Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientist, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehension and deliberate control of all human activities. It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom.

James, never thanked you for

James, never thanked you for this quote. Thanks!