Perspectives: A case for separating science and state

OPINION – Science and religion have long been thought of as mutually exclusive concepts. But looking at the headlines, it appears that science, in many ways, is behaving more and more like a religion.

The intensifying clash within the scientific community over global climate change is a familiar reminder of just how far some people are willing to go enforce their viewpoint. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that religious heretics were excommunicated and burned at the stake to prevent their ideas from infecting the rest of society.

Today, the scientific community labels as heretics and performs a figurative excommunication of those scientists who express doubt in the absolute truth of man-caused global climate change. This means blacklisting, discrediting, and cutting the funding of those scientists who refuse to buy into the “consensus” of their colleagues. Presumably this action is regarded as necessary to keep their ideas from infecting society at large.

But a recent article in Britain’s The Register threatens to rain on the parade of climate-change true believers. The article reports that a U.S. government-funded study set out to determine how to best convince American voters that climate change consensus is a settled fact requiring massive, urgent and immediate action by the world’s governments.

The article states: “A theory exists among some psychologists, sociologists and other soft “scientists” that it should be possible to convince the ordinary citizenry to accept the various huge costs advocated by environmentalists, by simply raising the level of scientific knowledge and numeracy. People would then be able to understand that there is a terrible danger facing the human race and so would support action to address it.”

But the U.S. National Science Foundation researchers instead ran headlong into what some might call an inconvenient truth.

As the article continues: “The soft-studies profs were amazed, however, to find that as one moves up the scale of science knowledge and numeracy, people become ‘more’ skeptical, not less.”

The explanation given by the survey’s designers was that the dissent had little to do with a scientifically suspect imminent carbon-based disaster. Instead, the explained that the more scientific and mathematical knowledge a person possessed, the more skeptical they were about the purported dangers of climate change.

By contrast, the more poorly educated were found to be more likely to accept on faith the pronouncements of the climate change community.

Either way, the study backfired spectacularly in that it found that less knowledge—not more—was the key to getting the public to buy in to the climate change imperative. Keep us dumb, and we’ll believe most anything.

The study illustrates a larger problem of what happens when science and the state become intertwined. The immediate solutions promoted by members of the climate change scientific priesthood all require massive amounts of government control over the means of production. This, in turn, means greater costs to tax payers and consumers as well as greater government regulation in our everyday lives.

Once scientific research was conducted on a free market basis, for the purpose of pursuing truth, and the funding followed the more effective research. That was before science and technology were largely funded by the state.

Today, an increasing number of scientific entities are far more concerned with obtaining or maintaining their government-sponsored funding. Their findings and their research tend to favor those who fund them. In the case of global climate change research, the vast majority of the funding comes from the very governments who would assume greater control in the name of “fixing” the problem.

This creates a symbiotic relationship that benefits certain scientists as it benefits the state. But this relationship has the potential to be highly destructive to the rest of us as the taxpayers are expected to pay for remedies prescribed by government-funded experts and specialists. A free market solution would be to once again separate the state and science.

Former economics professor Michael S Rozeff puts it this way, “Taxpayers are consumers. Left in freedom to spend their money as they please, their buying signifies value creation. As direct consumers of products directly consumed, they cannot be fooled.”

True liberty didn’t flourish until the church and state were separated. Truth in science would likewise benefit from separating the pursuit of truth from the state’s penchant for control. In the meantime, as in most things, the more we know individually, the less dependent we are upon experts to direct our thinking.


Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Theophile June 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Hi Bryan,
    This has been going on for over a generation, this dumbing down. Today, merely owning a Sears chemistry set from the 60’s, might get you arrested for “drug manufacturing”. And with intellectual property rights legislation you can’t legally tweak your sony playstation to run competitors software, even though when you bought it, you thought you own it, you don’t. How many people know their TV, car, and most every microprocessor containing device they own, isn’t really theirs? They are only licensed to use the software it depends on.

  • Chris June 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Bryan, you may be “husband, father of 6, truth-seeker, teacher, writer, speaker, and stirrer of pots,” but you are no scientist.

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