IFLScience has enough interesting actual science posts that I subscribe to it on Facebook despite the hard Leftism that infuses its worldview. This Leftism is especially apparent when the subject is climate change. IFLScience treats as gospel the fact that human activity is destroying the earth by making it too hot, too cold, too wet, and too dry; as well as increasing and decreasing the number of hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions; and, of course, causing oceans to rise and glaciers to retreat, although none of them in a really noticeable way yet even though we were supposed to be drowning in our homes by now, except that it’s all still super, super bad.
Given IFLScience’s hard-core, doctrinaire Leftism, I was incredibly surprised to see it take a stand on a law in Britain that could stifle scientists, a stand, moreover, that is predicated upon the fact that science is predicated upon constantly testing hypotheses and challenging assumptions:
Science is, by its very nature, objective. It uses data, backed up by demonstrable, empirical evidence, to try and explain as much of life, the universe, and everything as possible.
“Wow!” I thought to myself after reading that splendid opening sentence. The sentence immediately after, though, got me a bit worried:
Thinking about it, though, I decided that what the author is saying is this: Because politicians throughout the Western world are heavily invested in the whole climate change narrative, because they accrue power and money by pushing it, any article that contends that politicians distort climate change science must be saying that the science is infinitely less hysterical about climate change than the politicians, right? “A very bold stand by IFLScience,” I murmured to myself.
The article next turns to something that concerns all of us — government censorship of scientific speech. While the focus of the next two paragraphs is on Canada and Britain, the political urge to suppress unpopular speech sounds precisely like the mindset driving the lawsuit that has seen 20 Democrat state attorney generals sue ExxonMobil under some kind of loony fraud charges because ExxonMobil’s research doesn’t jive with climate change orthodoxy. Before I return to the IFLScience article, here’s a quick rundown on the horrors of the ExxonMobil case:
It’s not easy to make one of the world’s biggest fossil-fuel companies a sympathetic victim, but a collection of state attorneys general, led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, has managed it.
They have launched a campaign against Exxon Mobil that is a transparent — nay, an explicit — attempt to punish dissent on climate change. The members of the self-described “Green 20” are demonstrating a banana republic-worthy understanding of the law and their responsibilities. They shouldn’t be entrusted with the power of a meter maid, let alone a top position in law enforcement.
Schneiderman subpoenaed Exxon Mobil last year, in what purports to be a fraud investigation. The alleged offense is having less-alarmist views on global warming over the years than the green clerisy deems acceptable. How this would constitute fraud is unclear.
Usually, officials charged with law enforcement at least try to obscure their political motivations. Not the attorneys general who stood with Schneiderman at a saber-rattling press conference a few weeks ago. Dispensing with any pretense of disinterestedness, they dubbed themselves “AGs United for Clean Power.”
Al Gore appeared at the presser, not as a legal expert, but as a totem of the green left. Schneiderman said that President Obama’s climate agenda has been frustrated so he and his colleagues would work “creatively” and “aggressively” to advance it.
That is certainly his right — if he resigns and becomes an official at the Sierra Club or runs for Congress. Instead he’s using the powers of his office to harass a company with opinions he finds uncongenial.
The attorney general of the Virgin Islands, of all places, has joined in, even though Exxon Mobil has no assets or staff there. He has subpoenaed the company’s documents going back roughly 40 years under an anti-racketeering statute and, for good measure, also has subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank that once got donations from Exxon.
The conceit of this campaign is that if it weren’t for the likes of Exxon Mobil, the climate debate would be settled by now. This is a view that doesn’t allow for honest disagreement about a hideously complex subject that, even if you accept the premises of the alarmists, isn’t susceptible to a ready solution.
With the AG Inquisition firmly in place in your mind, let’s go back to the IFLScience article and read its stirring words about the dangers of mixing politics and science:
Sometimes, however, the facts are completely suppressed by political agencies. This was most recently and publically demonstrated in Canada under the Harper administration, when researchers funded by the state were banned from talking freely to the media. Even when they could speak out, their responses were highly moderated and censored by the government. Now, a similar thing may be about to happen in the U.K.
As reported by the Guardian, many British scientists will soon be legally blocked from speaking out on key issues affecting the nation, from genetic modification and stem cell research to dietary dangers and, yes, climate change. In a depressing state of affairs, the British government is about to adopt the very same Canadian-style gagging system just as the newly-installed Trudeau government there has repealed it.
“This is extremely worrying,” William Sutherland, a professor of zoology at the University of Cambridge, told the Guardian. “If they go ahead with this new anti-lobbying clause, then we will have many more poor decisions being made by government for the simple reason that it will have starved itself of proper scientific advice.”
Don’t you just feel like standing up and cheering? Here we have a Leftist science outlet shouting from on high that science is objective, data-driven, and evidence backed, and that it should not be subordinated to political agendas. According to IFLScience, scientists, no matter who funds them, must be allowed to voice their findings, and even give their opinions, out loud and in public. I was just thrilled.
You won’t be surprised, of course, to know that I was thrilled too soon. It turns out that the IFLScience folks aren’t horrified that those who bravely oppose the climate inquisition are being harassed, defunded, and threatened with civil and criminal legal actions. Instead, their ire is reserved for the possibility that scientists spreading the gospel of anthropogenic climate change might be stifled:
As of May, researchers that received grants from the government – which covers a broad range of topics, and a vast number of academic institutions – will not be allowed to use the results of their research to lobby politicians for change. The aim of the edict, proposed by the Cabinet Office, is to stop non-governmental organizations trying to affect legislative change. Senior scientists and research groups see this, quite rightly, as a straightforward assault on academic freedom.
The now-scrapped Canadian system was primarily aimed at federally funded scientists working in fossil fuel extraction industries. It’s clear that not only are fossil fuels dooming the planet through dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, but their extraction is contributing tonnes of toxins to worsening air pollution. Fracking, a relatively new form of natural gas extraction, is proving particularly controversial.
Of course, stopping scientists talking about the negative effects of these industries will exacerbate climate change, while improving the short-term economic prospects of those industries. At the time, the Canadian government was keen to ignore the former and focus on the latter. With fracking on the increase in the U.K. thanks to its government support, this new gagging order will no doubt have the same effect.
Given how vested IFLScience is in the whole anthropogenic climate change theory, and its comfort level with automatically denouncing any objective, data-driven, evidence backed research to the contrary, the article’s penultimate paragraph is either incredibly funny or terribly tragic. The one thing it isn’t, at least when it comes to the mindset operating at IFLScience, is true:
Science is, at heart, a search for truth – it cannot, by nature, be gagged and still operate properly.
It seems appropriate to finish this post with an excellent poster from Prager University: