Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Science Continues to Devolve Into Mere Special Interest


I have a piece in today's Daily Standard, in which I point out that the prime politicizers of science, are the leaders of the science sector. And they have become such money grubbers! A new "science" political action committee has been formed, allegedly to protect science from political interference. But when I perused the WEB site of Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), look what I found:

"A careful perusal of SEA's website reveals the organization's primary mission; vacuuming billions from public coffers into the science sector. In this sense, SEA is merely accelerating the ongoing metamorphosis of science into just another special interest willing to use all the political tools of the trade in order to gain increased access to the public trough.

"Thus, the SEA seeks 'increased federal and state-level public investment'--read, public spending--'in a balanced portfolio of research and development activities.' It further demands that the government 'remove inappropriate limits on stem cell research,' meaning dramatic increases in NIH grants for ESCR and public funding of human cloning research. It urges that public policy 'promote new partnerships between government-funded researchers and industry, including the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors'--in other words, time to ratchet up the corporate welfare! And it seeks 'an aggressive program of research and innovation incentives,' to promote more efficient energy use, which would, not coincidentally, provide substantial financial benefits to an increasingly powerful science-industrial complex."

To whipsaw itself into prominence, SEA grouses about "ideological" interference with science. But most of the "science" disputes SEA bemoans actually concern ethics and values, the proper answers to which cannot be found through scientific inquiry. Moreover, I point out, the science intelligentsia are just as ideological as those they oppose: The National Academy of Sciences, for example, supports creating embryos--whether naturally or through cloning--for use and destruction in research.

I conclude: "SEA claims to be advocating for science. But by crossing the crucial line that separates science from special interest advocacy--and by co-opting the coinage of accumulated community trust in science to achieve its own distinctly financial and ideological ends--SEA risks lowering the public's opinion of the scientific community. If that happens, these scientists will only have themselves to blame."

There's more, of course. Check it out.


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