The End of Science
Rebecca West writes, in The New Meaning of Treason, that a lot of our scientists during World War 2 were communists. There are several reasons this is important, but the first is that they immediately leaked our research on atomic bombs to Stalin.
They honestly believed in a "global scientific community" — that science knows no political boundaries, and that the world would be better if scientists shared all their information with each other. Somehow this would usher in an age of peace and plenty, and scientific know-how would mean food for the poor and an end to oppression.
So they gave the bomb to the Soviets. To the people who used technology to keep millions in chains and torture them and starve them to death.
These days, American scientists are doing the same thing, helping abusive husbands track their wives in Saudi Arabia and helping the Chinese develop social surveillance systemsand biological weapons. The scientists tell you how to do something and fail to understand or care why we shouldn't do it. Or maybe it's the money.
If this proves anything, it's that people who are taught to analyze physics can be really bad at reading people. They can theorize about matter and totally miss the substance of a movement. People say we need a more "scientific" outlook on the world, and they're right. We need to teach our kids to be skeptical, and systematic, and logical. What we don't need for this world to be a better place is for more kids to become professional chemists. We need more chemists to pick up The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
You would expect a person with a "scientific" mindset to look for information, and to share it — even a pie-in-the-sky communist. But the new fan of "science" doesn't trust the public with information, and so far as he can, when information doesn't fit his goals, he buries it. When he says "trust the science," he means "trust the scientists" — a group of people whose research he many times can't see, hasn't read, and can't explain, whose funders he doesn't know, and whose political and social goals he hasn't been told. It's gotten so bad that OSHA, the branch of our government tasked with keeping workers safe, is no longer requiring businesses to report adverse reactions to the vaccine — for the reason that (I quote) "OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination." I don't know which scientists to trust, but I know whom to not trust, and that is the person who refuses information and hides it.
A scientific mindset should be a machine and a method. It should mean that you know what facts you know and what you don't know, that you're open to new facts and factoring them in, and that the most important thing isn't feeling right, but heading in the right direction. What being "pro-science" actually means today is that you have the "right" facts. Not that you're good at sifting, but that you're good at accepting — and that you have the "correct" scientists as authorities.
Today we see this in effect. Medical professionals — the people who are specifically trained to deal with diseases and keep them from spreading — are being fired en masse because they don't trust the medicine they're being offered. Who's firing them? Not scientists or doctors, but medical capitalists and other administrators who believe some doctors over others. In another instance, NBC reported week that scientists were fighting scientists — about whether vaccines are better than natural immunity. I was told by a pro-vaccine commenter to educate myself. I asked "by which scientists?" and got no answer.
I doubt we could have avoided this. The outcome of all development is specialization. The outcome of all specialization is the recognition of ignorance — the fact that we have bodies of information out there that the general public won't and can't know, and that power structures have to develop around them. Thus, whoever has the best press and the badge of authority will be considered the best "scientist." And in an age of social media, whoever's opinions will be shut out will effectively be the "non-scientific."
An "age of science" is thus an age of authoritarianism. Not necessarily of peace and plenty, but of self-assured lab coats pressing expensive panaceas, and government lab rats using violence to back them. Quack medicines and programs will be pushed and swallowed. The media and social media will shut out the opposition — the group from which all scientific progress comes. Smug women too stupid and hysterical for critical thinking will shout down dissenting researchers and doctors. Those who stand with the opposition lose their jobs when public policy or public "safety" is at stake. Will science prevail in an atmosphere like this? Yes — the science of controlling the masses, and of keeping the scientifically minded quiet.
We're in the beginning stages of scientific and social tyranny. Others have already passed through the late stages — and the scientific outcome they got was Chernobyl.
Jeremy Egerer is the author of the troublesome essays on Letters to Hannah, and he welcomes followers on Twitter and Facebook. Email him at email@example.com to get his free essay collection.