The threat by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and “AG’s United for Clean Power” (a group of 17 attorneys general) to investigate and prosecute for fraud corporations and organizations questioning belief in manmade global warming so dangerous as to justify spending $Trillions to reduce it by fractions of a degree has some precedent.
No, not in the prosecution of tobacco companies for covering up the evidence of their product’s carcinogenicity. The biophysical link there was crystal clear decades before the prosecutions began.
Rather, it has precedent in eugenics, Social Darwinism, National Social Darwinism (= Nazism), and Lysenkoism. Governments in various places (including the United States) embraced each of those theories and enforced it by law, in every instance leading to evil on epic scales.
Nuclear physicist Robert Zubrin explains the real implication of the use of force to shore up “scientific orthodoxy” in a new article in National Review.
“This is nothing less than an all-out attack on science,” he says. He goes on:
Science is not a collection of facts; it is a process of discovery. Science, alongside its sister, conscience, is based on the signature Western individualist belief that there is a fundamental property of the human mind that, when presented with sufficient information, is able to distinguish right from wrong, justice from injustice, truth from untruth. Matters of science must therefore be determined by reason, not by force. To attempt to prevail in a scientific dispute through the use of force is equivalent to the use of a gun to prevail in a courtroom, or, for that matter, of rape to prevail in courtship. It is nothing less than a criminal rejection of a basic principle of our civilization.
It is also prima facie evidence that the case requiring such enforcement is severely defective. No valid scientific theory has ever required the use of police powers to prevail. No Ptolemaist was ever burned at the stake by Copernicans, nor did the relativity theorists ever find the need to round up the hard-core Newtonians or Etherite dead-enders. Even such counterintuitive theories as quantum mechanics and the Big Bang have done just fine without the assistance of Gestapo raids directed against their detractors. In the courtroom of science, if you have the facts on your side, you don’t need a gun — and juries would be well advised to distrust the case of those parties who choose to use weapons to silence adversarial witnesses.
Zubrin builds the case at length, with sound historical illustration.
“AG’s United for Clean Power” may be friends of what they (largely mistakenly) call “clean power,” but they’re no friends of science—or liberty.
Featured image, frontispiece and title page of Eugenics, photo courtesy of Andrew Kuchling, Flickr Creative Commons.