Let’s have a Science Party! We can serve hors d’oeuvres shaped like little molecules, on cocktail napkins printed with the periodic chart. In the background, we’ll play techno-rock music. For a centerpiece, we can have an ice sculpture of the Earth that will melt during the party, emphasizing global warming. Servers will be of indeterminate gender illustrating the arbitrary nature of sexual identity. We can use wine glasses with “Believe the Science”, and “E=mc2” etched on them.
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Wait, you say? That isn’t the sort of party you had in mind?
Democrats claim to be the party of science, but as a practicing scientist, I cringe a little every time I hear one of them say “believe the science”. They never seem to realize that they are making a theological statement when they say that, as real science is not a matter of belief, but rather of hard evidence. Their statement is more appropriately a tenet of the Church of Scientism.
The Progressive Left styles itself as exemplary of reason and science – true heirs of the Age of Enlightenment. They believe they know intuitively what is true and correct so that anyone who disagrees with them is, therefore, ignorant and wrong. The reality is that they have divorced themselves from corrective feedback, and are consequently more frequently wrong about many of the positions they hold.
They fear being insignificant so they attempt to appropriate importance by making claims that their opinions are actually based on scientifically established facts. Most especially, they fear being wrong as that would be a threat to their sense of self as someone who has “special” knowledge unavailable to others who do not share their beliefs. Claiming that their beliefs are based on science adds a layer of insulation between themselves and the abyss of error.
On nearly every issue where there is a technology or science component, the Left likes to claim superior knowledge based on their understanding of science. Anyone, including well-regarded scientists, who disagrees with them is branded as anti-science. Energy, biology, climate, and even economics are all subject to the Left’s opinions.
Perhaps, though, we don’t understand what science is, and the Left actually knows best. Let us look at what they mean when they speak of science.
A view in hindsight
Based on substantial history, it would appear that what the Left means by Science is any pronouncement made by a duly constituted authority that supports or agrees with a position or goal of the Left. It doesn’t matter if the pronouncement is contrary to any observed data, or if it can be disproven by experiment.
A prime example is Lysenkoism – the “scientific” doctrine popular in the 1930s to 1960s in the Soviet Union, and in the 1950s in Communist China. According to the doctrine, environmentally induced changes to an organism could be inherited and passed down to future generations. Soak peas in ice water, and they would be resistant to cold and could pass that resistance to future pea crops.
This idea of genetic malleability fit well with the Communist ideology that saw humanity as something that could be reshaped by proper environmental conditions and training to form the “New Man” who would be the ideal selfless party member.
Many on today’s Left share a similar belief in the mutability of the human spirit. They have so far been disappointed.
A tolerance for agreement
Lysenkoism illustrated another aspect of Leftist science – intolerance of dissent.
Through the support of his political benefactors, whose ideologies his “science” supported, Lysenko was able to have anyone who disagreed with his ideas dismissed from their positions and even killed. In this way he served as an example for and predecessor of today’s “cancel” culture.
Today, we have Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose pronouncements on masks, vaccines, and Covid, in general, have been used to justify lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, and many other abuses. He has even gone so far as to state that those who disagree with him are attacking science.
Big Tech organizations, and even certain government entities, including the White House, have expressed great intolerance of and even encourage the cancellation of those who disagree with Dr. Fauci and other officials on any matters Covid related.
This is in spite of much good research from across the world that paints a vastly different picture of Covid and its effects than the “official” version.
What we see today is the same pattern that the Left has followed for the last hundred years: claim statements by sanctioned authorities to be correct “science”, actively suppress dissent and eliminate any alternative ideas. Notice that nowhere in the process is any hint of reality permitted, except by accident.
An inconvenient truth
Reality is, in fact, an inconvenient factor in the Left’s attempt to use the public’s reverence for science as a tool to justify their actions. To those of us who practice real science, reality is the ultimate arbiter. If it cannot be demonstrated to be consistent with observed reality, then it is probably not true.
For us, a fact is a statement regarding something that is objectively verifiable and independent of the observer or reporter. For those on the Left, it appears that a fact is simply a point raised in an argument to support a particular position, and needs have no provenance in reality. The left conflates opinion and conjecture with fact.
Truth is what we all agree on
Once one has removed a requirement for connection to reality, while still claiming an assertion to be the product of science, many errors and abuses follow. The fallacy of social proof is often applied to counter any objections. This false proof is often found in many current controversies such as those around climate change. Ask someone on the Left why they might believe that climate change is caused by human activities, and you are likely to get a response similar to “everyone knows”, rather than a rational presentation of evidence. Someone more vested in truth is likely to trot out a list of studies where the question has been explored and actual evidence presented.
Real scientists spend much time discussing the pros and cons of various experiments, of the interpretations of results, and what conclusions can be drawn from the observations. New observations can completely overturn previous conclusions if the evidence is sufficiently compelling.
Some will bring up the assertion that there is a “consensus” of 97% of scientists that humans are causing climate change. In real science, consensus, even consensus of scientists, is not proof. It was not that long ago that there was consensus that the earth was the center of the universe and that the Sun, moon, planets, and stars revolved around it. We now know that is not true. The previous consensus was wrong, and consensus cannot prove anything. All it can show is what a certain group presumes to be true.
In certain areas today, reality and objectivity are actively discouraged. This is particularly true in gender issues, Socialist economics, and wherever Critical Theory operates. In these areas, objective truth is irrelevant and a distraction. What is important is the quality of the arguments used to support a position and the potency of the arguments against any opposing position. The more persuasively a position can be presented, the more likely it is to be accepted as “scientifically proven”. In other words, the Left substitutes plausibility for proof, opinion for observation, and rhetoric for reason.
I could go on at great length regarding the (mis)use of science by the Left. Almost universally, there is some logical fallacy involved. Fortunately for me, someone has already prepared an extensive list of fallacies so I am spared that effort.
The problem for all of us arises when, rather than being content with proposing partly baked ideas as truth, the Left seeks to impose their beliefs on the rest of us, usually to our detriment.
I have already mentioned the case of climate change where monumentally consequential policy decisions are being made in an area where there is great scientific controversy, including controversy regarding the degree to which human activities might affect climate. In this particular conflict, the Left is attempting to use political pressure to suppress dissenting views and to dismiss any evidence that might disprove their positions. They attempt to claim “the science is settled” when that is far from the case.
People who disagree with the Left are labeled “climate deniers”, “science deniers”, Republicans, Conservatives, deplorables, and other terms that have emotional impact but offer no actual information. Those who present opposing views or data that conflicts with the claims of the Left are subject to ridicule, threats, cancellation, and even violence. In these ways, the Left follows directly in the footsteps of Lysenko.
Let thought from sense divide
The Democrat Left’s pursuit of all sorts of extreme ideas, all justified on the basis of “science”, has left many of us wondering just what world they inhabit. Perhaps it reflects an over-acceptance of Postmodern philosophy that denies the existence of an objective reality – something essential to real science.
There is certain evidence for this Postmodern influence in the urban/rural split we see today. Most of the rural or suburban portions of the country operate in direct daily contact with an objective reality that exists independent of their thoughts and feelings. These are the regions that lean Right and subscribe to the traditional views of science and to science as a process of truth discovery. In the rural environment, operation consistent with reality is a survival issue.
Urbanites, by contrast, are surrounded by human-created structures ranging from the buildings they inhabit to the rules, both explicit and implicit, that shape their daily lives. This situation fosters the impression that everything is arbitrary and subject to human construction – whatever the mind of man can conceive, the hand of man can build. All that is required is sufficient consensus and will. One sees this in the efforts of the Left to suppress dissent, to emphasize consensus, and to produce fantasies of what they imagine can be done and then seek to coerce others to accept them. In many ways, this Postmodern approach defines the Left of today and explains why most urban areas are Democrat strongholds.
It is ironic that the Democrat Left claims to be the party of science when its foundational philosophy explicitly denies the validity of science. We see the consequences everywhere, from the idea that sexual identity is an arbitrary socially determined concept to the views promoted by Critical Race Theory, to the idea that Socialism, in whatever form, is a workable model for social organization. The only thing necessary for any idea to work is that enough people believe in it.
It follows directly that the essential factor needed to establish a new reality is the power to coerce agreement to the desired objective. Persuasion is good, but insufficient where there is independent thought. That independence is the threat presented by the Right and the reason why it must not only be suppressed but actually eradicated. The only thing keeping the Utopian dreams of the Great Reset from manifestation is the existence of stubborn disagreement. Reality, since it doesn’t exist, does not enter into the equation. The only reality is power.
Science is founded on the idea that there is an objective reality that can be observed and that its workings can be discovered by conducting suitable tests. It holds that the universe is consistent, exists independent of our thoughts and feelings, and that by application of logic and reason, we can extract useful information and principles.
Correct application of these principles empowers us to effect changes in the world, such as improvements in agriculture to feed more people, discovery and application of new sources of energy to literally empower our lives, medical advances to cure and even prevent disease, and improve many, many other aspects of our lives.
The current “Party of Science” would deny the validity of science, while at the same time taking advantage of the fruits of science. Perhaps the Democratic Party should more properly style itself as the “Party of Fantasy” – something more consistent with their acts.
In the Science of the Left, there is nothing left of science.
By David Robb
David Robb is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a practicing scientist who has been working in industry for over 50 years. One of his specialties is asking awkward questions. A large part of his work over the years has involved making complex scientific issues clear and understandable to non-specialists. Sometimes he even succeeds.
Featured image is a screengrab from CNN.