Who Says Science Isn’t Politicized?

Every so often, Erin O’Connor at Critical Mass makes a comment or quotes someone indicating that the humanities are bastions of left-wing thought and PC propaganda while ‘the sciences’ (defined vicariously as math, chemistry, physics, biology and related disciplines) have remained relatively free of such influences.

Fjordman of Gates of Vienna has written a long, reflective, and funny post on the politicization of higher education, using Ward Churchill and ACTA’s report, How Many Ward Churchills? as starting points. Fjordman begins by noting what many of the ACTA report critics have strenuously denied, that there is a logical connection between the fact of the Ward Churchill scandal and the question, “How many professors like Ward Churchill are there?”: “His notoriety focused attention, not just on his outlandish views and alleged fraudulent activities, but also on the entire “tenured radical” phenomenon in the modern academy. How many other Ward Churchills are there? Is it likely that he toils alone in his tower of radical pedagogy?” He then goes on to describe what reading the ACTA report was like for him: “Reading the ACTA report makes me glad that my son, the future Baron Bodissey, is a chemistry major. Mathematics and the sciences are largely exempt from the ugly cant that infests the humanities courses,” he writes; “One of the notable features of the classes listed by ACTA is how much alike they all are. … They all sound alike, and after a while the litany of transgressive gendered oppression whiteness colonial racism community activism imperialism social change blurs into a meaningless background drone. … After reading a few of these, you say to yourself, “You can’t make this s**t up!” These course listings are like lefty Mad-Libs, with a predictable script and blanks to be filled in.”

(Emphasis mine.) It’s tempting to believe it, but lately I’ve grown to wonder. Ok, I lie. It’s not just lately.

From Sean at Cosmic Variance:

You know what’s a really big problem? The Farm Bill. The quintennial piece of legislation that steers billions of dollars into subsidies for farmers who mass-produce the raw materials of which junk food is made. Yeah, I know, not exactly a hot topic, nor our normal fare. But Michael Pollan in the Times lays out a devastating indictment of the current system, which encourages our economy to overproduce food that is incredibly bad for us, while busting the federal budget, ruining the environment, and hurting small farmers and developing countries to boot. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Well, ok then. He’s allowed to write on any damn topic he likes, and in fact, I think he writes pretty well. It’s just that the man’s a Ph.D. astronomer (Harvard, no less) and a bit, shall we say, out of his league with economics, not to mention nutrition? Lest you think that this is an aberation for my friend Sean, perhaps you should know that he’s looking forward to his engagement with the Yearly Kos event, and that he is indeed a proud Kosack.

Here he’s helped along this path by Mark, of the same blog. The topic? Religion. You’d think that if this is not exactly the author’s field of study, that he should be at least a little respectful, wouldn’t you?

But I don’t mean to pick on just Cosmic Variance, which is truly a fine resource when it sticks to Astronomy and Physics. There are many other scientists on-line who like to wear their liberalism on their sleeve. When compared with a real religion writer, someone who in fact knows something about the topic, the writings of the um… scientist rather pales in comparison.

And in fact, this cuts both ways, politically speaking. At least Rand Simberg is smart enough to let the experts speak.

There are entire magazines that devote themselves, editorially speaking, to what can only be called left-wing science. Even the venerable Scientific American seemingly cannot refrain from PC rhetoric with this article, entitled Bush’s Mistake and Kennedy’s Error, or this one, entitled The Road to Clean Energy Starts Here, which seems to confuse science with technology (I cannot confirm that SciAm’s range of topics is no longer limited to science, but includes technology as a matter of course. I ended my subscription to SciAm about thirty years ago when I noticed them pontificating about the dangers of Global Cooling and overpopulation). Both appear in the May 2007 print edition.

Erin O’Connor’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the Sciences are most definitely not immune from the same influences that have destroyed the humanities in academia and the credibility of the press outside of it.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Astronomy, domestic, politics, Science

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