Save us from the politics of science

It’s bad enough when politicians and true believers distort scientific findings for their own purposes. But when scientists do it, we’ve reached a dangerous point in intellectual discourse.

Such is the case with the widespread belief that evidence of global warming is incontrovertible. Thankfully, some scientists courageously have decided to publicly challenge this numbing, politically correct dogma.

Among them isNobel Prize-winningphysicist Ivar Giaever, who recently resigned from the American Physical Society because he couldn’t accept the group’s policy statement that the «evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring …» and mitigating action must be taken immediately to avert certain ruination. He asked, «In the APS, it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multiuniverse behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?»

He might as well have added, «Give me a break.» Basically that’s what an international group of 16 eminent scientists said Friday in The Wall Street Journal («No need to panic about global warming.»).

«In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the ‘pollutant’ carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Giaever. And the number of scientific ‘heretics’ is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.»

Among them is the absence of global warming for more than 10 years, acknowledged in private emails by climate alarmist Kevin Trenberth. That absence is troubling because the model on which global warming is based predicted otherwise.

These scientists observed that «although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted, or worse.» When scientists are cowed by media-fueled public opinion, you know that we’re in trouble.

Another example of dangerous groupthink were warnings that the BP oil spill was the worst environmental disaster ever, one that would permanently damage the ecosystems and economies of the Gulf Coast. Ocean currents, it was predicted, would sweep «plumes» of noxious and toxic pollutants around the tip of Florida and up the East Coast and my God, who knows where else! The rest would hang around and haunt the Gulf Coast for years and years.

Except that it didn’t happen. More than 4 million barrels of petroleum and 200,000 tons of methane … vanished, as early as September 2010, just months after the spill. A federally funded study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that naturally occurring and gluttonous bacteria devoured the nasty stuff. Swirling currents, it turns out, kept the mess bottled up in the Gulf until it disappeared.

Not all scientists agree; they’ll test the evidence, keeping an open mind, which is more than one can say about the climate alarmists.

Politically and ideologically inspired minds are not so objective about the evidence concerning the role that induced abortions may play in breast cancer. Some scientific and professional organizations have circled the wagons to fend off any evidence and possible conclusion that could dent the dogmatic belief that induced abortions are perfectly safe, safer than childbirth.

The Hoffman Estates-based Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer has for years carried on a courageous effort to educate the public about the possible relation between abortion and breast cancer. The group recently pointed to a study co-authored by researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing that reported a nearly tripled breast cancer risk for post-abortive women.

By simply mentioning this study, eyes will spiral and heads will spin, accusing me of anti-choice fascism, or something. To that, I will admit to not being a scientist or capable of launching a detailed defense of or attack on such complex studies.

But, that’s why science should be kept free of political and ideological groupthink, the kind that is muddying such important issues as climate change, environmental «disasters» and breast cancer. As laymen, we don’t get to vote on what is scientifically accurate and credible. Nor should scientists, not if we want to get to the root of our problems.

By Dennis Byrne, a Chicago writer who blogs in The Barbershop

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