Some people might think my frequent references to Enemies of Science are a bit over the top. If so, I invite you to read the following speech in parliament by Dr Peter Phelps, a newly elected Liberal MP (Hat tip Crikey). It’s not uncommon to hear right-wingers calling environmentalists Nazis, but here the allegation is against the vast majority of scientists.
The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS [6.20pm]: I comment in this place on the latest adventures in the great global warming swindle that is gripping our nation and most of the formerly civilised world. I will assume that most people know that I am an historian by trade and I come from a time when, at universities, the humanities displayed a healthy scepticism for the self-assured absolutism of the sciences. However, nowadays it seems that the sciences have been corrupted by enough government money and political correctness to have them operating in parallel with their socialist brothers in the humanities. Government money is given to agitate for specific ends. Why are we surprised when the ocean acidification project suddenly finds that — guess what? — oceans are acidifying.
But we should not be so surprised that the contemporary science debate has become so debased. At the heart of many scientists — but not all scientists — lies the heart of a totalitarian planner. One can see them now, beavering away, alone, unknown, in their laboratories. And now, through the great global warming swindle they can influence policy, they can set agendas, they can reach into everyone’s lives; they can, like Lenin, proclaim “what must be done”. While the humanities had a sort of warm-hearted, muddle-headed leftism, the sciences carry with them no such feeling for humanity. And it is not a new phenomenon. We should not forget that some of the strongest supporters of totalitarian regimes in the last century have been scientists and, in return, the state lavishes praise, money and respectability on them. One writer, speaking about the rise of Nazism, said this:
“Possibly we have not yet given enough attention to one feature of the intellectual development in Germany during the last hundred years which is now in an almost identical form making its appearance in the English-speaking countries: the scientists’ agitating for a ‘scientific’ organisation of society. The ideal of a society organised ‘through and through’ from the top has in Germany been considerably furthered by the quite unique influence which her scientific and technological specialists were allowed to exercise on the formation of social and political opinions … The influence of these scientist-politicians was of late years not often on the side of liberty: the ‘intolerance of reason’ so frequently conspicuous in the scientific specialist, the impatience with the ways of the ordinary man so characteristic of the expert, and the contempt for anything which was not consciously organised by superior minds according to a scientific blueprint were phenomena familiar in German public life for generations…”
Does that sound familiar — the impatience with the ways of the ordinary man, the intolerance of reason of the scientific specialist, the contempt for anything not organised by them? Look at the way that Professor Ian Plimer has been pilloried and blackguarded by the scientific community; look at the way he was supported when he rightly attacked claims of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat but how swiftly they turned when their agenda was not being met by him. What was the net result of this?
The way in which, in the end, with few exceptions, her scholars and scientists put themselves readily at the service of the new rulers is one of the most depressing and shameful spectacles in the whole history of the rise of national socialism. It is well known that particularly the scientists and engineers, who had so loudly claimed to be the leaders on the march to a new and better world, submitted more readily than almost any other class to the new tyranny.
Writing in 1927 Julien Benda wrote words that could just as well be used to describe today’s anthropogenic global warming spinmeisters. He speaks of the:
“…superstition of science held to be competent in all domains, including that of morality; a superstition which, I repeat, is an acquisition of the nineteenth century. It remains to discover whether those who brandish this doctrine believe in it or whether they simply want to give the prestige of a scientific appearance to passions of their hearts, which they perfectly know are nothing but passions.”
Indeed, how different are today’s global warming urgers from those in pre-war Britain, who looked forward to a Britain that would “be centralised and totalitarian”? Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. The present idolatry for pseudoscience, the claims of settled science and of a scientific consensus — these are the leper’s bell announcing the approach of the would-be totalitarian. The bell was not heeded in the 1930s. It should be heeded now.