‘Global Warming’ had a precursor in capturing the hearts and minds of the world. It was a bogus ‘science’. When the consequences of the theory became clear to all, everyone who was involved conveniently walked away.
This article uses extracts from an appendix to Michael Crichton’s novel “State of Fear”.
I have included a link to the full article is at the bottom of this page.
Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.
This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.
For nearly 50 years, from the late 1800s through the first half of the 20th century, there grew a common political acceptance by the world’s thinkers, political leaders and media elite that the ‘science’ of eugenics was settled science. There were a few lonely voices trying to be heard in the wilderness in opposition to this ‘science’, but they were ridiculed or ignored.
Believers in eugenics argued that we could improve the human race by controlling reproduction. The most respected scientists from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other bastions of intellectual rigor retreated to a complex on Long Island named Cold Spring Harbor. Their support came from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman fortune working with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, State and other agencies.
The ‘science’ was not lacking important public supporters. Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson were enthusiastic believers. The theory won approval of Supreme Court justices, leaders in higher education and Nobel Prize winners. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was one of the most vocal adherents. She established the first ‘birth control’ clinic in 1916.
They believed that ‘the best’ human beings were not having as many children as inferior ones — the foreigners, immigrants, Jews, Blacks, degenerates, the unfit and the “feeble minded.” Sanger said “fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty.” She spoke of the burden of caring for “this dead weight of human waste.” H.G. Wells spoke against “ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens.” Roosevelt said, “Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.” George Bernard Shaw said that only eugenics could save mankind.
All in all, the research, legislation, and moulding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected. Today, we know that this famous theory that gained so much support was actually pseudoscience. The crisis it claimed was nonexistent. And the actions taken in the name of this theory were morally and criminally wrong.
Now we are engaged in a great new theory, that once again has drawn the support of politicians, scientists, and celebrities around the world.
Once again, the theory is promoted by major foundations.
Once again, the research is carried out at prestigious universities.
Once again, legislation is passed and social programs are urged in its name.
Once again, critics are few and harshly dealt with.
Once again, the measures being urged have little basis in fact or science.
Once again, groups with other agendas are hiding behind a movement that appears high-minded.
Once again, claims of moral superiority are used to justify extreme actions.
Once again, the fact that some people are hurt is shrugged off because an abstract cause is said to be greater than any human consequences.
Once again, vague terms like sustainability and generational justice—terms that have no agreed definition—are employed in the service of a new crisis.
Crichton didn’t argue that global warming is the same as eugenics. But he did show that the similarities are not superficial. Open and frank discussion of the data, and of the issues, is being suppressed. Leading scientific journals have taken strong editorial positions on the side of global warming, which, he argued, they have no business doing. Under the circumstances, any scientist who has doubts understands clearly that they will be wise to mute their expression.
One proof of this suppression is the fact that so many of the outspoken critics of global warming are retired professors. These individuals are no longer seeking grants, and no longer have to face colleagues whose grant applications and career advancement may be jeopardized by their criticisms. In science, the old men are usually wrong. But in politics, the old men are wise, counsel caution, and in the end are often right.
The past history of human belief is a cautionary tale. We have killed thousands of our fellow human beings because we believed they had signed a contract with the devil, and had become witches. In Crichton’s view, there was only one hope for humankind to emerge from what Carl Sagan called “the demon-haunted world” of our past. That hope is science.
But as Alston Chase put it, “when the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power.” That is the danger we now face. And that is why the intermixing of science and politics is a bad combination, with a bad history. We must remember the history, and be certain that what we present to the world as knowledge is disinterested and honest.
Many thanks to Michael Crichton. I’m sorry that you are no longer with us.
Andy Shaw, 19th June 2016