Bruce McQuain takes on the sticky subject of just how much basic research should be conducted by the Federal government, and just what Dwight Eisenhower would have thought of the coziness that now exists between academia and Washington, D.C.
Those of you who write grants for a living will want to place your hands over your ears and chant “la la la la la la, I can’t hear you.” The rest of you can read on from Bruce’s entry in Q&O:
If you’re any student of history, you’re aware of the speech President Eisenhower gave upon his leaving the presidency. It is often referred to as the “Military/Industrial complex speech”.
In it he warned against the future problems we’d encounter by the establishment of a permanent “military/industrial complex” (something we’d never had prior to WWII).
But are you also aware he warned against the establishment of something else that it took WWII to create (think Manhattan Project)? You’ll recognize it immediately:
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
. . . [I]t is something which has indeed come true and is alive and well in the current “science” of global warming.
Then add this – because this hasn’t been changed or disproven. From S. Fred Singer’s book, “Unstoppable Global Warming – every 1500 years” (2007, 2008):
…[T]he Antarctic ice cores tell us that the earth’s temperatures and CO2 levels have tracked closely together through the last three ice ages and global warnings. However, CO2 has been a lagging indicator, its concentrations rising about 600 to 800 years after the temperatures warm. Oregon State climatologist George Taylor explains the significance of this fact:
Early Vostok analysis looked at samples centuries apart and concluded correctly that there is a very strong relationship between temperatures and CO2 concentrations. The conclusion for many was obvious: when CO2 goes up, temperatures go up, and vice versa. This became the basis for a number of scary looking graphs in books by scientist Stephen Schneider, former VP Al Gore, and others, predicting a much warmer future (since most scientists agree that CO2 will continue to go up for sometime). Well, it’s not as simple as that. When the Vostok data were analyzed for much shorter time periods (decades at a time rather than centuries), something quite different emerged. Huburtus Fischer and his research team from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography reported: “the time lag of the rise in CO2 concentrations with respect to temperature change is on the order of 400 to 1000 years”. In other words, CO2 changes are caused by temperature changes.
Yet somehow the science has been perverted over the years to now characterize CO2 as not only a current indicator of warming but a cause of warming. As far as I’ve been able to determine, what is written above has yet to be disproven or disputed.
So here we are with a government which is interested in increasing revenue by literally creating a tax out of thin air, and we have a well funded government “science” – a $103 billion dollar “gravy train” (that figure was quoted quite often at ICCC6) and we wonder why we’re getting the conclusions we’re getting from those scientists?
Ike was a pretty smart guy. He saw all of this coming from way off. Whenever government takes control of science (or any other field) to serve its purposes by providing huge incentives to do so, it’s going to get what it wants. And it has, at least to a point. What it hasn’t gotten, however, is indisputable truth concerning its theories concerning CO2. That means its taxation scheme is dead.
However, as long as it continues to fund science and scientists with massive amounts of money, it will provide tremendous incentive to get at least a portion of those who call themselves scientists to serve government’s policy aims. That’s incredibly dangerous. . . .
We need to get government out of science. Wasn’t this the administration which said it was going to “restore” science to its proper place? That proper place is without government subsidy or, as we’ve experienced through the AGW fiasco, “[t]he prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money …”, perverts science and makes it a servant to political policy. That, friends is infinitely more dangerous to our freedoms than the military/industrial complex.
I have mixed feelings about this, because there are some areas where one can at least argue that government-subsidized research has done humanity an awful lot of good–the biological sciences come to mind, and I think this despite the fact that I know the Center for Disease Control (to cite the obvious example) is not above making policy proposals that are informed by a progressive mindset. And yet, when there is an outbreak of highly infectious disease, we trust the CDC to recommend appropriate quarantines, and we know that although they are paid by the people of the U.S., they track diseases all over the world.
And they have to: when it comes to certain viruses and bacteria, this is a pretty dimunitive planet.
I also want to know how the human brain works, and how much of what we are is determined by genetics. I’m cool with the government chipping in to figure out the cerebral cortex and the coding of DNA.
But climate science is so flagrantly politicized that researchers’ bread is only buttered on one side: the side of apocalyptic scenarios, and malevolent carbon dioxide hiding under our collective beds in the dark. The whole thing has become completely absurd, and there is no reason that a government as broke as ours should be supporting the nomenclatura merely because they possess Ph.Ds.
And you’ll recall that the costs of wrong-headed policies based on a misreading of global warming are very, very high, particularly in developing countries. Attitudes that simply lead us to recycle silly things a bit compulsively here in the richer countries cause death and starvation elsewhere in the world.
We have the means to fund more research privately; when it comes to more controversial issues, we ought to make this happen, rather than letting middle-class taxpayers be the pawns in the great debate over greenhouse gasses.