Once upon a time, scientists, unlike prophets, were inductive. They sought to interpret evidence in empirical fashion, rather than twist it to “prove” preexisting suppositions. The Enlightenment taught them to welcome transparency and free expression, not (as in the Medieval Age) to form cabals to hound out heretics. Public intellectuals and grassroots activists were devoted to promoting proven ideas, rather than making fortunes through the shrill advocacy of unproven ideas. In the age of cynicism, penances were sold to sinners to allow them without guilt to satisfy appetites that conflicted with their doctrine; by contrast, the lives of moralists reflected the simple creed they advocated for others. Governments acted on scientific consensus, not theories that were the most favored or trafficked in popular culture. Debates, not propaganda cinema or cheap invective, adjudicated honest disagreement; people of the lab and library, not Hollywood celebrities and rock stars and their wannabes on campus, informed the public about scientific dispute.
How strange: This was to be our new age of science; instead, we are getting alchemy, the inquisition, and the reign of the superstitious.