Free Markets, Free People

Science in the service of politics

We’ve talked about this at other times in the past but there are some examples in a recent Victor Davis Hanson peice that make the point again.  Science is science.  It should not be something in service to anything, especially politics.  It should stand alone and we should deal with its findings as objectively as possible.  Unfortunately, today we have “science” (and yes the quote marks do indicate that what I’m going to note has nothing to do with real science) in the service of politics and for hire to whomever can provide it the most grant money.  It’s become a bit like expert witnesses in court.  Need one to conclude a certain way?  We can find that “expert” for you.

Anyway, there is one particularly egregious example in the VDH piece (at least more egregious than some, at least to me) that I want to note because it has so recently been in the news and used in politics to further an agenda:

The president still talks of “settled science” in the global-warming debate. He recently flew to California to attribute the near-record drought there to human-induced global warming.

There is no scientific basis for the president’s assertion about the drought. Periodic droughts are characteristic of California’s climate, both in the distant past and over a century and a half of modern record-keeping. If the president were empirical rather than political, he would instead have cited the logical reasons for the fact that this drought is far more serious than those of the late 1970s.

California has not built additional major mountain storage reservoirs to capture Sierra Nevada runoff in decades. The population of the state’s water consumers has almost doubled since the last severe drought. Several million acre-feet of stored fresh water have been in recent years diverted to the sea — on the dubious science that the endangered delta smelt suffers mostly from irrigation-related water diversions rather than pollutants, and that year-round river flows for salmon, from the mountains to the sea, existed before the reserve water storage available from the construction of mountain reservoirs.

In other words, government has been lax (no forward planning or construction for the water needs of an expanded population), environmentalists have been extreme (demanding an entire valley be dried up for a mostly useless fish) and the result has been to aggrevate a natural penomenon to disaster levels.

But they will tell you that it has to do with “global warming”, not poor government, not environmental extremism.  What Obama is pushing is pseudo-science, fashioned to support a political position.  There is no reason that this drought should be as severe as it has been.  And again – it isn’t global warming causing the severity.

Remember, this was the guy who promised he’s put science back in the place it belonged.  Apparently that place is the same place he claimed it was before he took office.  As a political tool to push an ideological agenda.  That’s precisely what he was doing in California.

But then, the fact that he lied shouldn’t suprise anyone, given his track record.


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27 Responses to Science in the service of politics

  • The economist has an interesting article “Who pressed the pause button?” ( where “Warmists” are described as being increasingly desperate to reconcile the 15 year pause in the warming trend with their own models.  It seems the current trend is falling increasingly outside the model parameters to the point where their models have no validity at all.  And if their models cannot hold up their position, then their sky is truly falling down around their ears.
    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of fellas!!!

    • The article, however, concludes that the warming trend will return. And it doesn’t not portray anyone as ‘increasingly desperate.’ I’m skeptical of AGW but let’s keep it honest.

      • “does not”

      • Sorry – forgot this bit – When you read their explanations for the “pause” you can see their desperation in trying to ‘splain it all.

      • The more years the pause happens, the statistical probabilities get worse for catastrophic AGW.
        Its like flipping a coin…when it comes up heads 17 times in a row, you wonder if its really 50/50 odds.

        • Only if the physics of CO2 forcing reverse themselves.

          • The physics? The physics is that CO2 won’t cause the warming feared simply by acting as a greenhouse gas, the theory relies upon positive feedback. If there is no net feedback or negative feedback there is no problem. At least, no warming problem caused by CO2.

      • Oh, PLEASE.
        As people become more desperate, they become more strident.  Hence, the really loud, spittle-flecked “SHUT UP” crowd in the AGW religion.

        • @ Ragspierre
          I don’t disagree with your point about stridency; however, I am not referring to the world wide alarmist fervor over AGW, I’m specifically referring to only the article cited by SShiell, an article which does not strike me as strident or desperate.  Not every article/comment/study on AGW is actually over-the-top. There are actual scientists who are doing actual, objective work in the field who make Kool-Aid-free observations about their domain and who don’t claim to have the big picture figured out or rest their current opinion on models.

    • The cyclic trend has been about 25-30 years of increase followed by 20 years of decline.  They’ve successfully buried 10 years of ‘plateau’ from the public.  Just need to hold on for 10 more years.  I say ‘plateau’ because we don’t know what we have.  The Alarmists are the keepers of the Temperature data now.  Haven’t heard much out of that satellite that suppose to be monitoring global temperature, now do we?

  • You have to cut some slack for a guy who does not know the scientific method from his own ass.
    Very little.
    Butt some.

    • No no, we need to rspect (oh yes I did….) him for the genius he is, smartest man in any room, bored by the job of being President, winner of Nobel prizes.

  • In an agency-wide address to employees Aug. 1, (Interior Secretary Sally) Jewell took the unusual step of suggesting that no one working for her should challenge the idea that human activity is driving recent warming. “I hope there are no climate-change deniers in the Department of Interior,” she said.

    There hasn’t been such an anti-science use of science since Carter started to make those little liver pills.  Actually, let’s consider Zantac and Tagamet.
    Years ago back when contrarians were welcome on TV, 60 Minutes did a story on the 2005 Nobel Prize winners in medicine, Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren.  Before their discovery, ulcers were largely blamed on stress and lifestyle.  The ethical drug companies service the problem with an antihistamine, Zantac and Tagamet.
    It seems that in 1982, Warren and Marshall found a type of bacteria that causes most peptic ulcers.  The medical establishment had declared this “science was settled.”  Warren and Marshall were physically ejected form medical symposiums where they had tried to present their evidence.
    That story sounds very familiar.

    • How does that bacteria form, and/or does stress reduce bacteria inhibitors?

    • There are many problems in the science of medicine, mostly based upon some correlation determined in some study. Nutrition is a major area where BS is peddled. Eggs are bad, no, no they are good? Rinse and repeat for a wide range of things.
      I actually think it was these sorts of nutrition claims which has shot down many people’s respect for science.

      • When they consistently demonstrate it’s the favored science of the highest bidder….what does one expect?

  • When there’s billions of dollars to scientists to promote global warming and virtually none for the opposing view, what’s a scientist to do?  Most Scientists aren’t on a fixed no questions asked stipend, their pay comes right out of grants to do specific work.   Not working on global warming, you may be broke.  A guys gotta eat.  Its no excuse, but its a reality that is part of other professions like doctors, you can doctor shop if you want more pain killers, lawyer, well need I say more…

  • “<I>Science is science.  It should not be something in service to anything, especially politics.  It should stand alone and we should deal with its findings as objectively as possible.</i>”

    Modern science (at any rate, not since the logical positivists, and the positivists before them, managed to turn it into “applied atheism”) doesn’t deal in truth, it doesn’t establish truth, it has no tools to distinguish a scientific statement which happens to be objectively true from one which does not.

    The *reason* the leftists so frequently use “science” to bolster their false narratives (there is a good leftist concept), and so frequently succeed in convincing so many that “science” is “settled” and settled in favor of leftism, is the people do not understand — and generally refuse to understand — that modern science, by its very nature, does not, and cannot, deliver truth-know-to-be-true.

  • In 1931 Adolf Hitler and the Nazis enlisted 100 scientists to denounce and discredit Albert Einstein in a paper entitled One Hundred Scientists Against Hitler.

    Why 100 authors? If I were wrong, then one would have been enough! ” – Albert Einstein

    • In 1931 Adolf Hitler and the Nazis enlisted 100 scientists to denounce and discredit Albert Einstein in a paper entitled One Hundred Scientists Against Hitler.

      Actually, that was  “One Hundred Scientists Against Einstein”.
      The Nazis also coined the phrase “Jewish Science”, and the Soviets used the phrase “Bourgeois Science”.
      I supposed today we have such denunciation of “Western Science”, “Racist Science”, or some such post-modernist nuttery.


    See?  They HATE science and anything rational in the Collective.

    • I’ve heard Boxer led Democratic Senators are going to get butt nakked, light a bonfire on the Senate floor and dance backwards around it in an all nighter to bring attention to “Climate Change”.
      Now, that’s just what I heard.  Might have been the same person Reid got that Romney info from in 2012.

  • If politics drives science, try different politics:
    1 – Climate change is caused by harmful over consumption.
    2 – The driver of mal-adjusted consumptive behaviour is blanket low interest credit.
    3 – Low interest lending is itself a high risk behaviour, meaning it is self correcting when the lenders go bust.
    4 – Unfortunately massive debt fuelled state spending allows blanket low interest lending to continue unchecked.
    5 – Massive government spending causes climate change.
    6 – Solution to climate change – cut government spending.