The Corner

The Left Loves Science?

I’ve got a great idea for a screenplay. Hollywood should love it, and it’s even based on a true story.

A lone research professor discovers that powerful interests are manipulating science to foist upon the people of a state a series of unjust regulations. But that’s not all. As he digs down into the data, he discovers corruption and misconduct. The state’s lead “scientist” turns out to have a fake degree, purchased from a fictitious “Thornhill University.” Moreover, key members of the state’s “scientific review panel” have overstayed term limits by decades. The professor blows the whistle, the scientist with the fake degree is suspended, the scientific review panel dislodges its entrenched members (at least temporarily), and the state begins to rethink its long-held assumptions.

Such a brave dissenter, a man unafraid to “speak truth to power” has no doubt been showered with academic awards, right? This is why professors work to protect academic freedom, isn’t it? The Left loves science, so this man must be an academic hero.

Not so fast. If the science the professor challenges is junk science engineered to justify draconian emissions regulations in California, and if the wrongly entrenched scientists include radicals like a former member of the infamous “Chicago Seven,” then dissent is not quite so patriotic, and “power” is not quite so enamored with truth. Instead, this professor was terminated, his funding looted so that he was forced to work a year without pay as he appealed his termination, and he was denied even the ability to fully defend himself in his own appeals.  

And at the end of the day, the “scientist” with the fake degree kept his job while the scientist who exposed fraud lost his.

FIRE, Reason, and many others have highlighted the professor’s plight, and late yesterday my colleagues and I at the ACLJ filed suit against officials from UCLA on behalf of Dr. James E. Enstrom, a research professor who blew the whistle on junk science, exposed very real scientific misconduct, and was fired for his trouble. Given the ideological monoculture of academia, I’ve long been amused by the Left’s claims of a Republican “war on science.” (Must everything be a “war”?) Does the academic Left really believe that groupthink breeds the kind of intellectual independence and fearlessness that the great scientists possessed?  

We know the answer to that question, and so does Dr. Enstrom. Fortunately, however, the First Amendment still protects the right of academic dissent, and we will soon see if UCLA’s actions can withstand the scrutiny of federal court.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Netflix Debuts Its Obama Manifesto

This week’s widespread media blitz heralding Netflix’s broadcast of its first Obama-endorsed presentation, American Factory, was more than synchronicity. It felt as though U.S. publicists and journalists collectively exhaled their relief at finally regaining the bully pulpit. Reviews of American Factory, a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Capital versus Tucker Carlson

Advertisers do not advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show to endorse the views of Tucker Carlson. They advertise on his show for the same reason they advertise elsewhere: a captive audience — in Tucker’s case, the second-largest one in cable news — might spare thirty seconds of attention that will, they hope, ... Read More
Natural Law

Are Your Sexual Preferences Transphobic?

Last year, a study exploring “transgender exclusion from the world of dating” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Of nearly 1,000 participants, the overwhelming majority, 87.5 percent, irrespective of their sexual preference, said they would not consider dating a trans person, ... Read More