Sunday, November 29, 2009

Climate Science, Irony, and the Root of All Evil

If you are not up to date on the row over unethical tactics and dishonest reporting of facts amongst the world's leading climate scientists, then you really won't get the context of this post. At Free Advice, Bob Murphy has done a splendid job of distilling the issue, so I suggest going there and checking out the "Climategate" posts of the last few weeks. You should, in fact, check Free Advice on a daily basis.

These climate scientists who blackmail editors, blacklist rivals, and fudge data must know now how the geocentrists felt in Galileo's wake.

The state was able to exert political pressure and force Galileo to retract his findings, for Galileo--by affirming Copernicus's proof of heliocentrism--had contradicted scientific and religious orthodoxy.

In exchange for his life, Galileo simply denied his "heretical" assertions--as if getting Galileo to take it back was the same as proving him wrong.

If the geocentrists had been so right in their view, shouldn't they have been able simply to contradict Galileo?

Of course they couldn't contradict him with anything resembling evidence, so they threatened him.

So the story goes. Now its the scientists who have the state's ear, and they're behaving as the Church did half a millenium ago.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

By the way, Christopher Hitchens asserts that "Religion poisons everything." I've been picking my way through his book God Is Not Great, and--while I'm not yet ready to make anything resembling a critique--I can say that Hitchens's examples prove not that religion poisons everything, but that the coercive powers of a supposedly legitimate state poison everything. Religion is often used as an excuse--or as a cover, as Hitchens describes Milsovic's grab for territory in the 1990's--but that doesn't mean that religion is the issue.

The same is true in Ireland, Lebanon, Israel, etc. It's the existence and involvement of the state that corrupts and leads to widespread suffering.

It's actually quite obvious, when you look at it. It links all forms of tyranny: from your run-of-the-mill theocratic dictatorship (e.g. the Taliban) to an atheistic dictatorship (e.g. Communism).

Remove their ability to inflict violence, and the Taliban becomes an oddity not unlike the Amish. Take away a communist's access to coercive powers, and he becomes a disgruntled academic or something slightly worse.

The state is the most violent organization on the planet. Only it enables men to be cruel and tyrannical on a noteworthy scale.

Back to Galileo. If the Church hadn't had the state to act as its goon, then the worst that it could have done was excommunicate Galileo. While this might have emotionally devastated Galileo, it would not have harmed him physically.

But now it's the climate scientists who have the state's ear, and what they're trying to do in Copenhagen and elsewhere should alarm you. Once the Church of Climate Change has real political power behind it, you'll see what I mean.

Then again, you can just read some history. It's all happened before.


  1. Hey Aristos,

    Unfortunately I can't give you specifics, but I have heard (from people I respect) that the standard story we all learned about Galileo and the anti-scientific Churchmen is a little off, that it was constructed by Enlightenment writers to glorify reason and embarrass the Church. I'm not saying Galileo wasn't harassed, but I think the story we all heard is about as true as saying, "At the time of Columbus people thought the earth was flat and that he'd fall off the edge."

  2. Bob:

    That figures. It comes across so perfectly--almost too good to be true.

  3. if parts of the truth, those items that might bring criticism or doubt to the story, where somehow overlooked or, worse yet, left out. Fortunately, such things don't occur with modern science, right?


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