Right Opinion

So, We've Rejected Science, Have We?

Cornwall Alliance · Mar. 30, 2020

By E. Calvin Beisner

Occasionally we get hate mail. Here’s a recent example. I know who sent it but will hide his name to protect him.

I hope your alliance members have a moment of reckoning.

Don’t feel entitled to a vaccine, a ventilator, or the electric power it runs on. Those are the products of the same science that you have rejected and accused of lying and conspiracies.

You’ve condemned the best tools we have to fight the pandemic and have misled many in subjects of prime concern to our survival. You are in no small part, the base of a federal government administration that has is proving itself inept and powerless in the least or guilty of gross negligence otherwise.

Well, gee. So we’ve rejected science. Just science, period. It’s not that we’ve found some claims by some scientists to be wanting — something scientists do all the time when scientific journals retract articles previously published. Nope, we’ve rejected science. Completely.

Which is why we publish three books by Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D., NASA award-winning Principal Research Scientist (Oh no!) in climatology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and one by Frank Schnell, Ph.D., retired toxicologist from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And distribute books by other scientists. And why roughly a third of our network scholars are scientists. And why we wasted our time obtaining the endorsements of roughly 185 scientists (including 21 climate scientists) to one of our open letters on climate change.

Check that. A few of those are engineers, so maybe they don’t count as scientists. Oh, but then, neither is the guy who sent us that screed. He has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and makes his living developing flowmeters. So if he’s a scientist because he’s an engineer, so are they.

This cheerful fellow tells us that we’ve “rejected and accused of lying and conspiracies” — whom? Well, our engineer isn’t much of a grammarian, unless he really intends the object of our rejection and accusation to be “science.” But that means we’ve accused science — not particular scientists — of lying and conspiracies. I don’t know how science could lie or conspire. Science isn’t a personal agent. Scientists are. Do some lie? No doubt. Are some involved in some sorts of conspiracies? Probably. But far from accusing scientists of lying and conspiracy, we’ve self-consciously refused to do that, because we think the proper ground of argument is evidence and logic, not ad hominem.

Perhaps our critic would like to quote where we’ve condemned any of “the tools we have to fight the pandemic.” We have in fact endorsed such tools. I guess he didn’t feel any responsibility to see if his accusations were grounded in fact.

And then he calls us “the base of a federal government administration that has is [sic] proving itself inept and powerless in the least or guilty of gross negligence otherwise.” Good golly miss Molly, I wish we could claim to be so influential! But we’re a small fish in a very big pond with little or no influence on the Trump administration. (If someone can help us gain that influence, please do!)

Ah, but it’s handy to use guilt by association when you have so little evidence at hand.

Actually, if anyone’s not “entitled to a vaccine, a ventilator, or the electric power it runs on,” it’s someone who demands that we replace the abundant, affordable, reliable, dispatchable electricity from fossil fuels with the diffuse, expensive, unreliable, unpredictable electricity from wind and solar. Nonetheless, if our critic gets COVID-19 and needs a ventilator, we won’t call for someone to pull the plug.

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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