Saturday, January 05, 2019

A New Rule

What they are supporting is usually wrong.

In 1914 a number of German scientists, scholars, and artists signed The Manifesto of the Ninety-Three, agreeing with Germany's entry into WWI and defending it against accusations that it was they who had started it all. In our own era, we have the Union of Concerned Scientists and their environmental and anti-nuclear slants, and various physician groups who want to weigh in on gun control.  In a discussion (argument) about race and the conclusions of Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn, a young friend linked for me a letter to the NYTimes by geneticists condemning him and his claims.

A letter to the NYT is not how science is done. It's how politics is done. We see something similar in criminal cases and in legislation - attorneys who are attempting to try the case in the press rather than in court, or those who are trying to carry on debate in controlled soundbites rather than in accordance with the job they were elected to do, are often doing so cleverly, shrewdly.  They suspect they can't win if they have to go through the usual channels, but they have a good shot in public opinion.

So too with the scientists and intellectuals - they are telling us they don't think they can win a fair fight, so they try and change the terms.  Shiny! Shiny! When challenged, they usually claim some variation of those other guys are winning unfairly by hoodwinking the public and they are only trying to right the ship. That is theoretically so, but examples for this are not coming to mind. 

I think physicians associated with the American Cancer Society should weigh in about cancer, an even political matters touching on cancer; the same for heart, diabetes, mental health, teeth, etc. It is often nice to know the backstory whether they represent majorities in their fields, but that is secondary. Biologists should be able to talk about GMO foods, chemists about contamination, that sort of thing.

But when scientists are trying to trade on white coats to take political stands, not as individuals but as supposed representatives of their craft, I have a new rule: they are taking the end-around because they can't win the fair fight.  What they are supporting is usually wrong.


Sam L. said...

I like the way you think.

Texan99 said...

Scientists labor under the same disadvantage as most academics in understanding politics. The only politics they really understand are a system in which their superior merit is guaranteed a reward regardless of what the public values when it has the freedom to spend its own money.