A British newspaper Nature reports
that one of the 9 authors of a paper purporting to show that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS is now being investigated for illegally dissenting from scientific consensus.
Now one of the whole purposes of University tenure was to protect professors from the sort of the witch-hunts that political parties cannot resist engaging in. Unlike UK
, and most American universities
, will Galileo's old University of Florence be able to resist the allure of political correctness? We will just have to see.
But that led to the question, what is it about some topics that seem to attract politicians like flies to honey? Why is it that AIDS research is such a political hot potato? Why does the defense of Darwinism bring out the most spittle-flecked invective seen on the internet? Why do people commit crimes
in defense of global warming? Where can one go to publish alternative theories to the Big Bang?
Here's a handy little table where I've tried to list some of these politically charged scientific theories. I'm sure you can suggest some more as well as correct my poorly researched numbers. (You do know that 73% of statistics are made up on the spot, don't you?)
|Table 1: Politically charged Theories
(Wikipedia reliably told me that every one of those theories is the accepted if not only factual theory. They are so reliably 100% politically correct, they will soon become a synonym or definition of PC.)
Okay, just for comparison, let's put down some theories that haven't had as much politically charged defense, have been overturned, or are unlikely to show up in a tenure review committee.
I can't defend these ad hoc
lists very well, and in all likelihood, I've biassed my sampling method so badly that none of my conclusions are worth the ink to print them. That is to say, of course it is Procrustean science
, but here are my conclusions anyway.
Age of Modernism
Most of Table 1, the list of "Theories to Die For" come from the Age of Modernism, more specifically, the Rise of the Age of Modernism. They are pillars
and cornerstones of the Modernist world view. In contrast, most of Table 2, the list of "Theories you May have Heard of", come from either the ancient past, or from the pre-Modern Enlightenment. One or two come from the Post-Modern Era where they reflect ambiguities in the Modernist consensus. By-and-large, none of them have the "building block" status of the Modernist consensus.
A second feature of the Table 1, is how much money is spent defending the consensus. Now mind you, this is often raised as an objection to the Skeptical Alternative, but one must only scratch the argument to see which bleeds straw. The Skeptical alternative to Anthropogenic Global Warming has taken in a few million dollars over the past 10 years, but government contracts to support AGW, as well as carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, EPA regulations and the like have averaged $10's of billions annually. If we include indirect costs, we would be close to $1T, but the accounting gets a bit dodgy.
The higher dollar estimate for Neo-Darwinism reflects the higher budgets for NIH over NSF or NOAA. Not everything at NIH directly defends Neo-Darwinism, but on the other hand, every proposal and paper has to contain a formal kowtow to Darwin as if it were a defense of the theory. So if we add up all the funding of proposals and papers that possess this requisite paragraph, which include the majority of NIH's annual $60B budget, we can easily exceed a $1T in the past 40 years.
Progressive Social Engineering
The other thing I notice about Table 1, is that if it does not involve cornerstones of Materialism, or large dollar government projects, it generally involves some form of social engineering. Even if it is tangentially related, it nonetheless gets invoked as a scientific support for social engineering. Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism have a notorious connection to "Social Darwinism
" and racism which is denied by all current biologists, but they do not hesitate to use it as defense of "evolutionary biology", "evolutionary psychiatry", "neuro-biology" and its anti-spiritual, materialist view of the world. AIDS research is used to normalize homosexual behavior (and contradict Darwinism!) Origin-of-life (OOL) is likewise used to explain away human uniqueness with a "genetic fallacy" that if we know where something came from we have explained its significance. Heliocentricism and Big Bang, despite both being astronomical theories are again applied to the question of human uniqueness and the denial of biblical authority. QM Copenhagen looks like a counter-example, because it undermines Laplacian determinism and the materialism that supports it. However this has been somehow converted into a defense of materialism against determinism, though no one really understands it (Bohr's intention!), so it seems to act more as a vaccination against substance dualism and the glaring deficiencies of materialism.
This leaves only Einstein's special theory as the last of inviolate theories. This is hard to explain, since most of Special Theory is devastating for materialism. Yet to his dying day, Einstein supported materialism, and for that act of loyalty, progressives have beatified and sanctified his theories. So in some strange way, the Special Theory is off-limits to criticism, because it maintains the sanctity of Einstein's progressive social views
When we look at Table 2, we see progressives and atheists such as Kant and Laplace and Democritus also promoting astronomical theories, but perhaps because they preceded the Materialist era, they were not likewise sanctified. Or perhaps society has such a short memory that their special status has faded from view, and their faults have had more time to be discussed.
So You Wanna Be an Einstein?
Suppose you want to be another Einstein, what kind of theory should you promote?
1) It should be related to the foundations of materialism. That is, it should attack religion, preferably Christianity, and refute some Biblical claim. Noah's flood and 6-day creation are toast, as are most of the Old Testament, so I can't give you any help denying the historicity of Genesis, the Davidic kings, or even the authenticity of the prophets, and likewise in the New Testament, the authority of scriptures and the divinity of Christ have long been denied, so there aren't too many angles there. However, the humanness of man is a ripe fruit waiting to be denied. Claim that humans are pre-programmed robots without freewill, or just chimpanzees with an extra chromosome, and that will make your theory fatally attractive.
2) It should involve large amounts of government funding. Preferably setting up a large international agency to supervise some aspect of human life. A eugenics council, or a UN "quality-of-life" panel would be ideal location, sweetened with some redistribution of international resources guaranteed to keep a whole class of apparatchiks well fed and watered.
3) It should promote a progressive agenda, one that engineers society. The idea here is to become self-propagating, to educate a new generation of children who will blindly reinforce the agenda. With proper positive feedback, society is no longer tethered to natural laws and traditions, but can follow more and more esoteric utopian goals that justify larger and larger gaps between the haves and the have-nots. At some point the haves will become the alpha-males of a childless society, the blue-bloods of a Brave New World.
Anthropogenic Global Warming came very close to the new Einstein, and if it were not for the greed of James Hansen and Al Gore, they may have succeeded at becoming the saints of a brave new world. Alas, Climategate
and Al's 24,000 sq foot home prevented the victory expected at Copenhagen, and now the entire story is coming unravelled. But this will not stop the "next big thing". The human genome project
, Francis Collins and Craig Venter could have led that direction if they had not uncovered far more complexity than they bargained for. But somebody out there is tinkering in their garage with a universal health care plan that proves Adam and Eve were Denisovans with a FoxP2 gene from a gorilla's fused #2 chromosome which can be embyonically cloned to make a miracle cure for cancer and fundamentalism. The Nobel Prize and the Presidency would be insufficient honors for such a man, even sanctification too little praise, so there will have to be memorials, services, rites. The next Einstein will also be also have to be the next Billy Graham.
Mark my words.