WE present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from The New War against Reason by Victor Davis Hanson, military historian, columnist, political essayist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. This appears at the National Review Online website. The bold font was added by us:
Barack Obama promised us not only transparency, but also a new respect for science. In soothing tones, he asserted that his administration was “restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.”
In our new Enlightenment of Ivy League Guardians, we were to return to the rule of reason and logic. Obama would lead us away from the superstitious world of Bush’s evangelical Christianity, “intelligent design,” and Neanderthal moral opposition to human-embryo stem-cell research.
For some of our science friends, that’s all it took to get them to sign on. But is this administration really a “new Enlightenment”? Let’s keep reading:
Instead, we are seeing an unprecedented distortion of science — indeed, an attack on the inductive method itself. Facts and reason are trumped by Chicago-style politics, politically correct dogma, and postmodern relativism.
We need some specifics to back that up, so let’s continue.
Hanson’s first example is a good one — the bizarre mythology of “jobs created or saved” — an alleged accomplishment that simply can’t be defended. He then discusses global warming — another favorite of our science friends. He says:
The fact that nuclear power could give us plentiful electrical energy and autonomy from foreign imports — and without the release of hot carbon gases — was ignored. Instead, by fiat, nuclear power was deemed a politically incorrect fuel source, somehow tainted by memories of everything from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island.
That nuclear plants are now safe, as we see from long experience in Europe and from their operation here at home; that we have spent billions to find a solution to the problem of their wastes; that they do not heat or pollute the atmosphere, or add to our quarterly trade deficit — all this is simultaneously substantiated by facts, and yet refuted by superstition and hysteria.
In contrast, government-subsidized windmills and solar panels, which give us little energy — and only on breezy or sunny days — are “rational” sources of power for 300 million consumers.
Observe that like us, Hanson doesn’t challenge the science of global warming, only the proffered solutions. To stay consistent, and to avoid jumping to conclusions, we’ll skip over the still-unfolding email disclosure scandal about global warming.
Continuing with Hanson’s article, now he turns to the subject of political correctness:
Western inductive thinking used to teach us to look at facts and collate symptoms. (E.g., we have observed a number of killers evoking Islam, yelling out “Allahu Akbar!” at the moment of their murdering, or post facto, bragging unrepentantly of murdering Jews and infidels.)
Then one makes a diagnosis based on such empirical findings. (E.g., unlike the case with radical anti-abortionists or violent environmentalists, in the last eight years we have witnessed a series of unhinged Muslim males who have justified their violent actions through affinities with, or promotion of, radical Islam.)
All those data lead to a scientific conclusion and prognosis. … [T]here is a danger that a subset of young Muslims is disproportionately committing terrorist acts….
But not so fast: Remember, we are now in an age of superstition, not rationalism, in which utopian ends justify unscientific means.
Hanson then ties that into the official reaction to the Fort Hood massacre, that is, Obama’s refusal to label it an act of Islamic terrorism — but you probably saw that coming. Want to know why you knew where Hanson was going? It’s because he lays his case out like a syllogism. He’s making sense.
These next excerpts are from the article’s conclusion:
In short, we are witnessing the rise of a new deductive, anti-scientific age.
Instead of [Bush’s] Christian, southern-twanged fundamentalists, we see instead kinder, gentler federal bureaucrats, globetrotting Ph.D.s, liberal hucksters, and politically correct diversity officers. All are committed to the medieval fallacy that exalted theoretical ends justify very real tawdry means.
The result is the triumph of superstition, and the dethronement of science.
And so, friends of science, although you may not like Hanson’s rhetorical style, can you rationally dispute the substance of his argument? Is Obama truly your friend, merely because he’s not a creationist? Or is he — really — the enemy of us all?
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.